Dubbed as the “little neurotoxin that could,” by USA Today, Botox now boasts sales of well over $1 billion for its manufacturer, Allergan. Many of us who start to see our migraine-furrowed forehead lines show up in our 30s think: hey, maybe Botox for migraine could help me too. But before you say “heck yes!” at the next Botox party or med-spa, be sure you know what you’re getting into.
The company markets brand products in six therapeutic areas: aesthetics/dermatology/plastic surgery; neurosciences/CNS; eye care; women’s health and urology; GI and cystic fibrosis; and cardiovascular disease and infectious disease. The company's products include Botox (botulinum toxin), Namenda (memantine), Restasis (ciclosporin), Linzess (linaclotide), Bystolic (nebivolol), Juvederm (injectable filler), Latisse (bimatoprost), Lo Loestrin Fe, Estrace (estradiol), Teflaro (ceftaroline fosamil), Dalvance (dalbavancin, Ozurdex (dexamethasone), Optive, Natrelle, Viibryd (vilazodone), Liletta (levonorgestrel), Saphris (asenapine), Enablex (darifenacin), Actonel (risedronic acid), Androderm (testosterone), and Gelnique (oxybutynin).
Study 3 compared 3 doses of BOTOX with placebo and enrolled 88 patients [BOTOX 360 Units (N=23), BOTOX 180 Units (N=23), BOTOX 90 Units (N=23), and placebo (N=19)] with upper limb spasticity (expanded Ashworth score of at least 2 for elbow flexor tone and at least 3 for wrist flexor tone and/or finger flexor tone) who were at least 6 weeks post -stroke. BOTOX and placebo were injected with EMG guidance into the flexor digitorum profundus, flexor digitorum sublimi s, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and biceps brachii (see Table 27).
Botox is said to decrease the frequency of migraine days by an average of 50 percent for those who suffer chronically (people who experience 15 or more headache days per month). After going through hell with my insurance to get approval, I scheduled an appointment with New York City neurologist and pain-management specialist Risa Ravitz. She was kind enough to speak with me about the wonders of Botox while we did my first procedure in June 2017.
Why Botox works isn’t completely clear. There’s some evidence that it may reduce the production of neurotransmitters related to pain in the areas where it’s injected. There’s also some evidence that it may have a broader effect on the brain’s pain centers, reducing the sensitivity that causes migraine sufferers to react to migraine triggers. While the exact mechanisms are poorly understood, the studies, as well as many of my patients’ experiences, do show a real benefit for many people.
How does BOTOX work in migraines? The current theory is that BOTOX disrupts the trigeminal nerve terminal end. This leads to down-regulation of the trigeminal nerve cells and suppression of neurotransmitter release in two critical areas: central neuronal glutamate release and peripheral nerve inflammatory-inducing compounds such as CGRP in the cerebral blood vessels.
Lalvani previously worked in organizations dedicated to diabetes, breast cancer and kidney disease, but strongly identifies with our community because she is living with migraine. She recalls first getting what she thought were terribly debilitating headaches when she was 18. “I had no idea what a migraine was,” she said, “and I never saw anyone around me have a migraine, so I had no idea what I was dealing with, and no one else around me knew what I was dealing with.” Lalvani is excited to see the progress that’s been made recently in migraine care and the tremendous effort that AMF has put forth in helping advance research to produce therapies at a faster rate. As you know, the mission for AMF is to drive and support impactful research that translates into treatment advances as well as mobilize the community for patient support and advocacy.
Reduced blinking from BOTOX injection of the orbicularis muscle can lead to corneal exposure, persistent epithelial defect, and corneal ulceration, especially in patients with VII nerve disorders. Vigorous treatment of any epithelial defect should be employed. This may require protective drops, ointment, therapeutic soft contact lenses, or closure of the eye by patching or other me ans.
Sarah of My Migraine Life is a mom living with chronic migraine and daily headaches who has tried a gamete of medications, alternative therapies and lifestyle changes. These experiences led her to write “My Migraine Life,” a website for people living with migraine and their caretakers devoted to telling stories, raising awareness, giving support, product reviews and more. My Migraine Life is a partner of the American Migraine Foundation.
Tell your doctor if you have received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.