If you’ve ever suffered from migraines, you know how debilitating they can be. The severe headaches, which often cause throbbing pain and nausea, affect about 10% of Americans. But a new treatment of Botox injections is helping many who’ve been laid low by migraines all their life.
“For migraine patients, the Botox treatment decreases their headaches by about 50%,” says Sabrina Johnson, D.N.P., a Carilion Clinic health care provider who performs the treatment. “I have seen my patients have a decrease in the frequency, severity and length of their migraines.”
The injections, which feel like tiny pinpricks, are administered in the neck and head. They work by temporarily paralyzing certain muscles to inhibit pain.
“I tell patients it is an excellent option for those who have tried and failed other treatments,” said Johnson. “I do explain the procedure and all that is involved, but I also tell them the success rate for my patients.”
Most insurers cover the injections, but patients may have to try and fail multiple other treatments before most carriers will pay for the procedure.
“I think as the public becomes more aware of Botox for migraines, there will be a push for greater coverage,” Johnson says. “There is such a loss of productivity in the workforce related to migraines that we as a medical society need to utilize all available options for treating this debilitating disease.” And, she notes that Botox has become a much more acceptable and more easily attainable treatment option for migraines than it was in the past.
Botox injections are now also being used to treat other conditions such as cerebral palsy, stroke spasticity and torticollis (wryneck). Ralph D. Brown Jr., M.D., of Carilion Clinic Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, who provides these other treatments, foresees even more potential for Botox injections.
“Botox is a unique and very effective treatment for many problems, and will probably be found in the future to be able to treat more conditions,” he said.