Postmarketing reports indicate that the effects of BOTOX® and all botulinum toxin products may spread from the area of injection to produce symptoms consistent with botulinum toxin effects. These may include asthenia, generalized muscle weakness, diplopia, ptosis, dysphagia, dysphonia, dysarthria, urinary incontinence, and breathing difficulties. These symptoms have been reported hours to weeks after injection. Swallowing and breathing difficulties can be life threatening, and there have been reports of death. The risk of symptoms is probably greatest in children treated for spasticity, but symptoms can also occur in adults treated for spasticity and other conditions, particularly in those patients who have an underlying condition that would predispose them to these symptoms. In unapproved uses, including spasticity in children, and in approved indications, cases of spread of effect have been reported at doses comparable to those used to treat Cervical Dystonia and spasticity and at lower doses.
In my experience, this, like all other treatments we use in medicine, doesn’t benefit every patient. I find that it helps a majority of appropriate patients, that is, those patients with a diagnosis of chronic migraine who have failed not just abortive but also preventative migraine treatments. Is there sufficient benefit, however, to outweigh the cost and pain of this treatment? In the case of most of my patients, the answer is yes.
BOTOX® treats the symptoms of severe underarm sweating when topical medicines do not work well enough in people 18 years and older. It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective for severe sweating anywhere other than your armpits. BOTOX® treatments temporarily block the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands, resulting in reduced sweating.
In many children, there are a few muscle groups that can have very active spasticity. A more focal approach to these muscles would be better than a widespread approach. In this case a doctor may advise a nerve block to interrupt the signal to the muscle that is spastic. Once the signal that is carried to the muscle by the nerve is interrupted, the spasticity will decrease.
Costs to consider: immediate out-of-pocket costs, long-term higher cost of insurance, your time, and the pain of injections. Botox for migraine costs approximately $525 per vial (100 units) and a typical migraine dose is 155 units. Depending on what your doctor charges in addition to the Botox itself, it’ll set you back $1500 – $2300 to test it out. And then there’s the needle pain. Don’t make the mistake of going to get a Botox injection if you’re in the midst of an attack, because it’ll be more painful than ever. Better to reschedule.
Note: Online coupons or deals for Botox are not recommended because you would be purchasing a medical treatment without knowing if the treatment would be suitable for your skin issues. What you think Botox will fix may not actually be the case, so don't buy something unless you know you are a good candidate for the treatment. It's better to get a Botox consultation first.
But even if the laws remain unchanged, as long as off-label uses are permitted by law, expect doctors to keep pushing the boundaries of Botox's applications--sometimes in the name of medical progress and sometimes with remarkable results.Norman Rosenthal, the Maryland psychiatrist who recommended Botox for his suicidal patient, says he's seen the upside firsthand. The patient, persuaded by Rosenthal, did indeed get Botox shots on his forehead and between his brows. Days later, Rosenthal got an email from the patient. It was a thank-you note. Finally, the patient wrote, he was feeling better.
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It’s not just about Botox, though. Last month, the FDA approved the first migraine-specific drug to prevent the severe headaches. Called Aimovig, the injectable med will cost $6,900 a year, according to The New York Times, plus injection fees. Because of the high costs, experts expect the new drug to be subject to step therapy policies. Stephen Silberstein, the director of the headache center at Jefferson University, told me in 2016 that he wouldn’t be surprised if insurance companies required patients to even try and fail Botox before covering the new meds (there are a few of them under development).
BOTOX is indicated for the treatment of upper limb spasticity in adult patients, to decrease the severity of increased muscle tone in elbow flexors (biceps), wrist flexors (flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris) , finger flexors (flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum sublimis), and thumb flexors (adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus).
After the injections, the patient will usually lay upright or semiupright on the exam table for about two to five minutes to make sure he or she feels good after the procedure, and then the patient should avoid lying down for two to four hours. If bruising is a concern, it will be important for the patient to avoid taking aspirin or related products, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), if possible after the procedure to keep bruising to a minimum.
Above all, I try to be gentle with myself and my children. It’s easier said than done. Mom guilt and migraine guilt weigh heavy on my heart, and I continue to remind myself that I’m doing my best. I give myself a break as I do with my children when they’re having a bad day. I’m patient with them and try to give myself the same respect. As a mom, it seems like my job is never done and that I can always do better. The reality is, no one is perfect, and we all have our flaws. We don’t expect our children to be perfect, and we should not expect ourselves to be. We do what we can when we can and take each day as it comes. I find joy in the smallest things and find that being grateful and mindful remind me off all the blessings I have, despite my unpredictable and chronic migraine attacks.
Though there's still more research to be done on Botox for migraines and doctors aren't yet completely sure why the procedure is effective, they have some ideas. Ravitz tells me, "What [Botox] does is paralyze nerve terminals. Essentially, nerve terminals transmit pain, but they also produce pain substances while they’re doing that, and it completely paralyzes that process." She says that it stops the process of pain patterning and it also relaxes the muscles.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you: have or have had bleeding problems; have plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; weakness of forehead muscles; trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) and are being treated for urinary incontinence (symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include pain or burning with urination, frequent urination, or fever); have problems emptying your bladder on your own and are being treated for urinary incontinence; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® or BOTOX® Cosmetic can harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® or BOTOX® Cosmetic passes into breast milk).