It’s been a little over three weeks. The neurologist said that after two weeks, my migraines and headaches should be substantially reduced. I haven’t spoken about it much even to people close to me because I didn’t want to jinx it, but right around the two-week mark, my headaches faded. I did have a migraine the day after the injections, followed by a lingering headache for about a week, but my neurologist didn’t think it was caused by the Botox. I know my body and have a feeling it was, especially because the introduction or removal of medication can exacerbate lupus symptoms and flares, so I was put on a prednisone taper just to be safe.
Hoffman’s husband’s experience is not unusual. Once a patient gets the more expensive prescription, health insurance providers can still try and push them back to cheaper drugs. Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Loder says that most health insurance companies stop paying for Botox if it’s not reducing a patient’s migraines by at least 50 percent. “It’s important to keep careful headache diaries and keep careful notes in order to be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatment is worth it,” Loder says. “You’re not home free once they approve it.”
Botulinum toxin is used to treat certain eye disorders such as crossed eyes (strabismus) and uncontrolled blinking (blepharospasm), to treat muscle stiffness/spasms or movement disorders (such as cervical dystonia, torticollis), and to reduce the cosmetic appearance of wrinkles. It is also used to prevent headaches in people with very frequent migraines. Botulinum toxin relaxes muscle by blocking the release of a chemical called acetylcholine.
Children do very well after having this procedure in our clinic and are not upset when they leave. We rarely use sedation. We use distraction and a quick injection method instead. In rare cases, localization of a muscle may be needed using an electromyograph (EMG) machine or electric stimulator. If this is needed we will discuss this before scheduling the injections.
As anyone who’s tried Botox for Migraine (or wrinkle reduction) will tell you, your forehead feels heavier after the injections are done, where the nerve endings are in essence frozen. As in ‘Frozen Face.’ Little to no movement, depending on how many units you receive and where they are injected. In my case, my usually expressive face didn’t track with my emotions: no raised eyebrows of surprise or delight or shock.
Individuals with peripheral motor neuropathic diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or neuromuscular junction disorders (eg, myasthenia gravis or Lambert-Eaton syndrome) should be monitored when given botulinum toxin. Patients with known or unrecognized neuromuscular disorders or neuromuscular junction disorders may be at increased risk of clinically significant effects including generalized muscle weakness, diplopia, ptosis, dysphonia, dysarthria, severe dysphagia, and respiratory compromise from therapeutic doses of BOTOX® (see Warnings and Precautions).
Though botulinum toxin is available under different names, Botox is the only one that is FDA-approved for migraine prevention. To be considered for Botox, patients must have migraines 15 days or more per month, which is considered chronic daily migraine. About 4 million Americans have such migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Also, patients must have tried and failed on at least 2 other medications first.
Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing.