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Last time I went in for my Botox treatment, my doctor asked me if I wanted to try Aimovig. Amgen and Novartis, the two manufacturers, were offering two free injections before I could access the drug through my health insurance. I declined. I didn’t want to start a new treatment that I’ll likely be booted from in a few months because of how expensive it is. Plus, the Botox is working great. I just wish I could have gotten it when I first went to see a migraine specialist, two and half years ago.
So people told me I looked tired, overlooking the grape-size purple bruise smack dab in the center of my forehead. As one RealSelf reviewer wrote: “My head feels too tight, my eyebrow position has dropped enough to lose my nice pretty arch and my eyelids seem hooded. My eyes look smaller.” Now, if it works, looking a bit tired is a small price to pay for a few more days each month of migraine freedom and function. And bruises can be covered with makeup.
According to the PREEMPT injection paradigm, one injection of 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is administered to one site in the procerus muscle. The procerus injection site is approximately midway between the two corrugator injections. In order to confirm the location of the procerus muscle, the patient is asked to furrow the brow, which will activate the belly of the muscle causing the medial furrowing to occur. Once identified, 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected superficially into the belly of the muscle at a 90° angle to ensure the injection is administered into the procerus rather than the frontalis. Injections placed too superiorly may inadvertently lead to penetration of the frontalis muscle.
With small children, I find that being prepared allows us to function better. My family food preps for the week with fruits, veggies and snack-size portions. I keep the snacks on a shelf that my children can easily reach, so they can choose a healthy option if they’re hungry and I’m unable to get up. Meals are well-thought-out and prepared ahead of time, in case of a migraine attack. I always have a back-up plan for my children. I have alternative arrangements for them after school if I am unable to care for them or myself. I also have activities planned. I keep crafts around that occupy my children’s time but also keep sound and stress to a minimum. We color, build Legos and play with Play-Doh all while sitting in rooms with strategically placed lights and brightness. I save screen time for when I need a few moments of quiet. We keep a routine and schedule, but also stay flexible. A schedule allows my family to know what to expect for our days and evenings. My children are able to continue their day if I have a migraine attack because they know what needs to be done and in what order. We have strict bedtimes that allow my children’s brains to grow and mine to recover. Along with this, I have taught them that moms don’t always feel well, and we may need to adjust the schedule from time to time to accommodate my migraine. I keep medication that can fight a migraine attack with me for use on the go and safely at home. I see a neurologist on a regular basis who helps me manage my migraine symptoms and medication.
Step therapy is largely unregulated both at the state and federal level, though individual states have started to pass legislation to limit step therapy and protect patients: 19 US states, including California, Mississippi, and Illinois, have laws that require insurance companies to grant certain exemptions or to review appeals from doctors within 72 hours so patients can get a waiver. But even then, getting a waiver isn’t always easy.
During a recent therapy session, one of Dr. Norman Rosenthal's regulars said he was considering suicide. It wasn't the first time the patient had entertained the thought, and even though he was on antidepressants and always kept up with his appointments, Rosenthal, a licensed psychiatrist with a private practice in North Bethesda, Md., wanted to offer his patient something else.
There are numerous areas where Botox may be used, including the forehead, crow's feet, gummy smile, chin, neck, and other areas of the body. Many of these are under investigation at this time for approval by the FDA. Additionally, topical forms of botulinum toxin (Revance) are under study at present. With time, these will likely come to market and be absorbed into the body of treatments for which Botox is used.
BOTOX® can be used on the forehead lines, frown lines, crow’s feet, bunny lines (lines in the nose), chin (for dimpling), skin bands on the neck, and around the mouth (for smoker’s lines and down-turned corners of the mouth). Wrinkles caused by sun damage and gravity often will not respond to BOTOX®. It is important to re-emphasize that BOTOX® is NOT a facial filler (that is, it does not fill existing wrinkles) – it merely relaxes the muscles that are creating those wrinkles.
If you think either of the FDA-approved anti-CGRP treatments might be right for you, speak with your primary health care provider, neurologist or headache specialist. If your medical provider isn’t aware of the treatments, don’t be afraid to let him or her know about them, or ask for a referral to a local neurologist or headache specialist. This is just the first step in advocating for the care that you deserve. To find a headache specialist in your area, consult our Find a Doctor tool. Dr. Starling believes that every person with migraine should be involved in advocacy, in order to bring awareness to the disease and break the stigma that surrounds it. She recommends that patients living with migraine get involved in advocacy organizations, such as our Move Against Migraine support community. You can also attend the annual Headache on the Hill event in which patients and providers go to Capitol Hill asking for more National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for migraine and other headache disorders. The next Headache on the Hill event is planned for February 11-12, 2019. Within the coming weeks, the American Migraine Foundation will be compiling a guide to all three anti-CGRP treatments. For additional information on anti-CGRP migraine treatment options, consult our doctor-verified resource library.