Currently, there are several anti-CGRP treatments undergoing clinical trials. Some of these treatments involve monoclonal antibodies, which reduce the activity of CGRP, potentially leading to fewer migraine attacks. One of these anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies, erenumab (Aimovig™), has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and is now available for patients. A second agent, fremanezumab (Ajovy™), was approved in September 2018. A week later, the FDA approved galcanezumab (Emgality™), making it the third anti-CGRP treatment currently on the market. Results from the clinical trials involving anti-CGRP antibodies have shown that about 50 percent of patients will have at least a 50 percent reduction in migraine days. “If you think about someone who has 20 migraine days per month, they have a 50 percent chance of having 10 or less migraine days,” Dr. Starling says. “We think that there are even these super-responders who have a 75 percent response rate, as well as super-super-responders who actually go into remission.” The results from these clinical trials are very promising, Dr. Starling adds. “The adverse events have been very minimal and the efficacy has been very good. It’s all looking up.” Dr. Starling says that although these medications are available, what really needs to be looked at is how to make them truly accessible for patients. Erenumab can cost about $7,000 per year without insurance coverage. “Insurance coverage is very, very key for the majority of our patient population,” she says. “Because the medications just came out on the market, there are still a lot of unknowns about insurance coverage.”
Keep in mind that the price is often reflective of experience and quality. Botox injections gone wrong can lead to a "Botox face", a droopy eyelid, migraine headaches, and frozen facial expressions. Unskilled or inexperienced injectors may also cause excessive bruising and more asymmetric results. Experienced plastic surgeons and dermatologists who are good Botox injectors can be much more expensive than injectors with limited experience.
It can also be expensive. Depending on your insurance, it can cost quite a lot of money — I've changed insurance providers since I first started, and my first provider was around $330 a month and charged me around $1,000 per Botox round (remember, that's four times a year). My new plan is much more expensive, around $600 a month, but the Botox copay is only $30 each time, so even if Botox is the only medical procedure I need to have done in the year, it made sense to switch.
It's also not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for depression, not that that stops doctors from prescribing it that way. Such off-label use of Botox, like that of any FDA-approved drug, is legal in the U.S. That's because once a drug has been approved by the FDA for a condition, licensed physicians are legally allowed to prescribe it for any medical issue they think it could benefit, regardless of whether it's been proved to work for that condition.
The number of headache days determines whether the patient has episodic migraine (EM) (14 or fewer headache days a month) or CM (more than 15 days of headache a month). The best method of determining the actual number of headache days is to subtract this from the number of completely headache-free days in a month. If headache is present on more than half the days in the month, and there are migraine features on at least 8 days a month, the condition is termed CM. The migraine features only have to be present on 8 days out of the month and not on every headache day. The other headache days in this condition are considered to be milder forms of migraine, and they do not have all the typical migraine features. If headache is present on fewer than 15 days a month, this is referred to as EM. EM can transform to CM over time. If analgesics are used on 10 or more days per month, this can lead to a transformation to CM. The patient’s headache pattern over a 12-month period should be determined, and during this time, there should be at least 3 months with 15 headache days; 8 of these days should meet migraine criteria.1-3
The migraines started later in life, before my lupus diagnosis. While sometimes they’d come out of the blue or I’d wake up with them, other times I’d see them coming. From a neurologist’s suggestion, I learned some of my “triggers” such as weather changes (specifically, drops in barometric pressure and incoming storms), hormonal changes and dairy. This past year I significantly reduced my dairy intake and although that didn’t eliminate the migraines, if I did eat dairy, I was sure to get one. Many of my migraines would also start as tension headaches. My neck is always extremely tight and eventually the constant tightness causes a migraine. Due to this, my old rheumatologist suggested taking a muscle relaxer at the beginning of a headache or before bed to keep my muscles from tensing up overnight and preventing a migraine. It worked sometimes… but definitely not enough.
As of 2013, botulinum toxin injections are the most common cosmetic operation, with 6.3 million procedures in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Qualifications for Botox injectors vary by county, state and country. Botox cosmetic providers include dermatologists, plastic surgeons, aesthetic spa physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants.
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.
Significant improvements compared to placebo in the primary efficacy variable of change from baseline in daily frequency of incontinence episodes were observed for BOTOX® (100 Units) at the primary efficacy time point at week 6. Increases in maximum cystometric capacity and reductions in maximum detrusor pressure during the first involuntary detrusor contraction were also observed. These primary and secondary endpoints are shown in Table 23.
Sunburn alert: The AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser and AHA/BHA Cream in the Lytera® 2.0 Advanced Pigment Correcting System contain an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Patients should use a sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using these products (or this system) and for a week following.
That Groupon offer might be tempting, but Dr. Tutela recommends doing a thorough vetting of your practitioner’s history and methods before signing up for treatment. “I think it is important to ask any provider if they perform that procedure frequently, to gauge their experience,” he says. He also suggests to ask if they’ve experienced any major complications and to check their online reviews. “You can get a sense of how you will be treated and what kind of experience other patients have had,” Dr. Tutela says. “Many of those low-cost, high-volume practices are loaded with horrible reviews from disappointed patients.”
In patients who are not catheterizing, post-void residual (PVR) urine volume should be assessed within 2 weeks post-treatment and periodically as medically appropriate up to 12 weeks, particularly in patients with multiple sclerosis or diabetes mellitus. Depending on patient symptoms, institute catheterization if PVR urine volume exceeds 200 mL and continue until PVR falls below 200 mL. Instruct patients to contact their physician if they experience difficulty in voiding as catheterization may be required.
A BOTOX “treatment” consists of 31 injections to the head and neck areas, if adherence to the FDA approved protocol is followed. Except for injection into the procerus, which is in the midline, all others are paired sets of injections on the left and right sides. Muscles included are the frontalis and temporalis areas as well as the occipitalis, upper cervical paraspinals, and trapezii. The amount injected at each of the 31 injection sites is small—5 units of BOTOX in a volume of 0.1 mL normal saline or sterile water. A total of 155 units is are typically used.
I’ve had migraine since I was 5 and have learned a lot over the years about how to manage it. I’m aware of the foods that trigger my migraine attacks, and I try to eat consistently and drink a lot of water. My children and I eat as healthy as possible throughout the day to keep energy up, knowing skipped meals are a trigger for both tantrums and migraine attacks. Staying on a schedule allows my body to stay stable and helps me identify triggers. The same goes for my children. Maintaining their energy and providing them with good food and water prevents them from getting “hangry” later. We all want to avoid a food meltdown. I know that I am triggered by weather, hormones, stress, diet, hydration, light, sound, heat, sleep and more. I try to be prepared for as many of these situations as I can, but some are easier to avoid than others. If you’re unaware of your triggers, keep a log. There are migraine apps that can help you track your symptoms and identify what’s causing your attacks. Finding patterns in how you react may help with identifying effective medications or alternative treatments.
Our advice: if you’re going to try it, don’t give up on Botox for Migraine after the first try, and reconsider whether you’re a good candidate after three tries. Both Drs. Jackson and Kornel noted that there was a large placebo effect seen in many of the studies. “It’s hard to know if most of the benefit was from the drug or from the placebo effect,” said Jackson, who added, “but, patients don’t care if it’s a placebo effect.”
It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with their upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. Treatment with BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.