Andrew M. Blumenfeld is director of The Headache Center of Southern California. Most of his research has focused on the use of OnabotulinumtoxinA in the treatment of chronic migraine. He helped develop the injection paradigm approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and has taught providers around the world on practical aspects of this treatment option.
Other things to know about Botox treatments: Some providers charge a consultation fee, which is waived if you choose to proceed with the injections but charged if you decline. Also, who is doing the injection? Make sure it’s a trained, certified professional. As in many other things, training and credentials are important. In some practices, a junior employee may perform the procedure for a lesser rate. Make sure that’s what you want.
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.
The primary efficacy variable was wrist flexors muscle tone at week 6, as measured by the Ashworth score. The Ashworth Scale is a 5-point scale with grades of 0 [no increase in muscle tone] to 4 [limb rigid in flexion or extension]. It is a clinical measure of the force required to move an extremity around a joint, with a reduction in score clinically representing a reduction in the force need ed to move a joint (i.e., improvement in spasticity).
There have been spontaneous reports of death, sometimes associated with dysphagia, pneumonia, and/or other significant debility or anaphylaxis, after treatment with botulinum toxin. There have also been reports of adverse events involving the cardiovascular system, including arrhythmia and myocardial infarction, some with fatal outcomes. Some of these patients had risk factors including cardiovascular disease. The exact relationship of these events to the botulinum toxin injection has not been established.
In 1820, Justinus Kerner, a small-town German medical officer and romantic poet, gave the first complete description of clinical botulism based on extensive clinical observations of so-called “sausage poisoning”. Following experiments on animals and on himself, he concluded that the toxin acts by interrupting signal transmission in the somatic and autonomic motor systems, without affecting sensory signals or mental functions. He observed that the toxin develops under anaerobic conditions, and can be lethal in minute doses. His prescience in suggesting that the toxin might be used therapeutically earned him recognition as the pioneer of modern botulinum toxin therapy.
BOTOX was evaluated in two randomized, multi-center, 24-week, 2 injection cycle, placebo-controlled double-blind studies. Study 1 and Study 2 included chronic migraine adults who were not using any concurrent headache prophylaxis, and during a 28 -day baseline period had ≥15 headache days lasting 4 hours or more, with ≥50% being migraine/probable migraine. In both studies, patients were randomized to receive placebo or 155 Units to 195 Units BOTOX injections every 12 weeks for the 2-cycle, double-blind phase. Patients were allowed to use acute headache treatments during the study. BOTOX treatment demonstrated statistically significa nt and clinically meaningful improvements from baseline compared to placebo for key efficacy variables (see Table 24).
Botulinum toxin has been investigated for use in patients with blepharospasm in several studies. In an open label, historical ly controlled study, 27 patients with essential blepharospasm were injected with 2 Units of BOTOX at each of six sites on each side. Twenty-five of the 27 patients treated with botulinum toxin reported improvement within 48 hours. One patient was controlled with a higher dosage at 13 weeks post initial injection and one patient reported mild improvement but remained functionally impaired.
The cosmetic effect of BTX-A on wrinkles was originally documented by a plastic surgeon from Sacramento, California, Richard Clark, and published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1989. Canadian husband and wife ophthalmologist and dermatologist physicians, JD and JA Carruthers, were the first to publish a study on BTX-A for the treatment of glabellar frown lines in 1992. Similar effects had reportedly been observed by a number of independent groups (Brin, and the Columbia University group under Monte Keen.) After formal trials, on April 12, 2002, the FDA announced regulatory approval of botulinum toxin type A (Botox Cosmetic) to temporarily improve the appearance of moderate-to-severe frown lines between the eyebrows (glabellar lines). Subsequently, cosmetic use of botulinum toxin type A has become widespread. The results of Botox Cosmetic can last up to four months and may vary with each patient. The US Food and Drug Administration approved an alternative product-safety testing method in response to increasing public concern that LD50 testing was required for each batch sold in the market.
The most commonly reported side effects for JUVÉDERM® injectable gels were injection-site redness, swelling, pain, tenderness, firmness, lumps/bumps, bruising, discoloration, and itching. For JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA® XC, dryness was also reported. For JUVÉDERM VOLUMA® XC, side effects were predominantly moderate in severity, with duration of 2 to 4 weeks; for JUVÉDERM® Ultra XC , JUVÉDERM® Ultra Plus XC, or JUVÉDERM VOLLURE™ XC, they were mostly mild or moderate in severity, with duration of 14 days or less; and for JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA® XC, they were predominantly mild or moderate, with duration of 30 days or less.
With abnormal joint movement and inactivity, muscles can shorten and contract. In the case of muscle spasticity, the joint and soft tissue can be normal, but with constant contraction of a muscle because of spasticity the muscle can shorten. When it can no longer stretch to allow full range of motion, a contracture can happen. Agents that lessen the spasticity of the involved muscles best prevent this type of contracture.
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.
The 5-unit dose that is injected at each site is a very low dose. Earlier studies with total dosing below 155 units failed to show separation from placebo. As a result, I encourage all patients to get a minimum of 155 units, even if they have a small frame. The optional component of the injection paradigm is the 40 units that are used for following the pain sites. The pain sites are the temporalis, occipitalis, and trapezius. These can be held if the injector is concerned. I do not reduce the dose below 155 units as lower doses have not separated from placebo, and thus I may not achieve an adequate headache effect with a lower dose. In fact, most of the time I increase the dose to at least 165 units, as this was the mean dose in the PREEMPT trials. I inject 5 units behind each ear for a bilateral headache and 5 units in two sites behind one ear in a side-locked headache.
It takes a village to raise a child. My family members are well aware of how I cope with migraine. They make themselves available to help my children and me often. I rely on people to drive me to doctor’s appointments as well as take my children to sports practices. I arrange carpools and am honest with the people in our lives about how a migraine attack can be unpredictable and suddenly change plans. Every year, I alert my children’s teachers of my chronic migraine and ask them to watch and listen for signs of migraine or stress in my children. I worry about them physically and emotionally and so far, they have handled my disease as they would any other illness. By being honest about the help I need, I find that the people in my life are better equipped to follow through. Many people would like to help but don’t know how. I have given up pride and allowed others to help, which inevitably takes stress away from us all.
Ray Chester, an attorney in Austin who has represented several plaintiffs in lawsuits against Allergan, says that just about all the cases he has handled involved off-label use of the drug. In 2014 a New York couple argued that Botox, which they chose to try off-label to treat their son's cerebral-palsy symptoms, caused life-threatening complications. The family was awarded $6.75 million by a jury. Allergan, which initially planned to appeal, ended up privately settling the case with the family, and the terms of the settlement have been kept confidential.