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BOTOX® Treatment of Headaches
By Monica Galvan
Published on October 06, 2007
Headaches cause a lot of headaches – for the business community. Employees with headaches may have to take time off work, or their performance at work may be compromised by their head pain or the effects of whatever medication they may be taking to control the headaches. In some cases, the costs associated with headaches can be substantial.
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Beginning in the early nineties, some patients being treated with BOTOX® Cosmetic for frown lines began mentioning to their doctors that a fringe benefit of BOTOX® treatment was the reduction or elimination of headaches. Medical studies were done as a result of these observations, and the three most common forms of headache – muscle tension headache, migraine headache, and cluster headache – have all been reported to respond well to treatment of the painful areas with BOTOX® injections. In clinical practice, it is common to encounter patients whose headaches overlap somewhat between these three classic types of headache.
Patients who should be considered for BOTOX® therapy of headaches include those who do not respond adequately to pills or who experience or fear side effects from systemic medications. BOTOX® Cosmetic is a highly purified, naturally occurring protein which does not have any systemic effects and, unlike many headache pills, will not interfere with an employee’s safety or performance at work.
While a few patients will experience very dramatic relief of their headaches within hours or days of their initial BOTOX® treatment, it is more typical for patients to improve in a progressive manner, with about 80 percent of patients achieving a high level of relief (with little or no need for systemic medications) after four to five treatments, usually performed every two to three months.
Patients are encouraged to continue their current program of medications for migraine headaches and to gradually reduce those medications as the benefits of BOTOX® treatment develop. Patients are also encouraged to identify and as much as possible avoid factors which trigger their headaches (for example, smoking, noise, or certain foods).
It is helpful to keep a record of headaches and medication consumption. As the benefits of BOTOX® treatment unfold, patients usually note a reduction in the severity and frequency of headaches, time off work, and the need for expensive headache medications.