A treatment used by our neurology department offers relief to chronic migraine sufferers.
Botulinum toxin type A (Botox®) is a natural protein that’s made by a certain kind of bacteria. The protein is removed from the bacteria and then specially prepared before use. This protein is the “active ingredient”: in other words, it’s the part of the medicine that does the work, and it can be helpful in medical conditions such as chronic migraine.
The treatment is used as a preventative treatment in chronic migraine. This means that rather than stop your headaches once they’ve started, it aims to reduce the number of days on which you get headaches and improve the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic migraine.
It’s thought that the treatment blocks the chemicals (neurotransmitters) that carry pain signals before they reach the nerve endings and that this, indirectly, blocks the development of migraine.
A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache usually lasting between four and 72 hours. The pain is typically on one side of the head and the sufferer may feel or be sick and be more sensitive to light.
There are several known triggers that can lead to a migraine including stress, sleep changes, weather conditions, physical or sensory stimuli and some foods, drinks and medicines, though these can vary from person to person.
Some scientific research suggests that migraines are caused by confusing signals that are sent and received by the brain. There is also the suggestion that imbalances in brain chemicals that regulate pain in your nervous system could play a part.
Chronic migraine is defined by the International Headache Society as headaches occurring on 15 days or more per month for at least three months; where the attacks fulfil criteria for pain and associated symptoms of migraine without aura on at least eight days per month for at least three months, where there is no medication overuse and where the headaches are not attributable to another causative disorder.
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) it’s estimated there are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in England, and right across the UK six million people suffer from migraine.
The aim of the Botox® for Migraine service we offer is to help reduce the number of days on which you get headaches. This means that, rather than stop your headaches once they have started, it aims to reduce the number of days on which you get headaches and help improve the quality of life for those suffering from chronic migraine and may reduce the need for medication.
The Botox® for Migraine treatment is made up of a set of injections offered in the Outpatients Clinic. Your Consultant will inject tiny amounts of botulinum toxin type A into the muscles around your head, neck and shoulders. Each session will need 31 injections and will take about 15 minutes.
When you enquire you about this new treatment you will be asked to attend an initial consultation with the Consultant Neurologist. This is to determine eligibility for the Botox® for Migraine treatment as the medication is not suitable for all. Your Consultant will explain this to you.
Patients will only require this treatment once every 12 weeks. As with any type of injection, you may experience some discomfort during your treatment session, but this should not last for long.
After your treatment is complete you will be asked to stay at the clinic for a short while, to check you’re comfortable following your treatment.
As a private or self-funded patient, you can use a GP referral to book directly by completing an enquiry form or calling the Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.
Published on 03 September 2021