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Posts Tagged ‘Botox’

Botox News: Can I do Migraine Education without Getting Nasty?

October 21st, 2010

Have you heard the news? Botox has been approved by the FDA for treatment of chronic Migraine. I first heard it from Diana Lee at Somebody Heal Me, but it’s been in the press this past week. This is great news for many chronic Migraineurs. Health insurers who have been refusing to pay for the highly expensive treatment will now lose the excuse that it is not a standard, accepted treatment. The FDA approval probably doesn’t guarantee they will cover it, but makes it much more likely. Like most Migraine treatments, Botox doesn’t work for everyone. As I understand it, for some Migraineurs, the injections into specific points in their heads and necks paralyze muscles that otherwise would contribute to the triggering of Migraines. With FDA approval, the treatments will be available for a much larger group of sufferers.

I guess some jokes are inevitable. Just for the record, the injections are highly unlikely to be into the same spots in your face that would plump up wrinkles, unless you just happen to have a wrinkle on one of those trigger points. Sorry. But I just ran across someone joking about it, and it got my goat.

A friend of mine who is a M.D. and has a great understanding about Migraine, has been very supportive of me, and also happens to work in a company that manufacturers dermatological products (so you could see she has some professional interest in the topic) posted a link on Facebook to the FDA approval of Botox. I commented that it was great news. Another friend of hers (who I don’t know) commented after me, saying “suddenly, I feel a headache coming on. sign me up!” Okay, I don’t know if this woman is a Migraineur or not and I don’t want to go off half-cocked, but it put me on slow burn. First I kind of shrugged, then read it again and was annoyed and gradually I’m getting that agitated feeling in my stomach… that could lead to a Migraine, among other things.

I’m trying to get at my feelings. The implication that I read there is that it’s a joke that you could get Botox for a “headache,” that people should fake headaches in order to get cosmetic Botox treatments. It trivializes our condition, maybe completely unknowingly, but even so. I was inclined to let it go so as to not drum up trouble, but if I don’t take on an opportunity to educate, I’m not being true to myself.  So I’m going to answer her. If you’re reading this post on Facebook, I already have.

Of course I’d love to really let loose, but I want to educate, not alienate, so here’s what I’m saying:

Migraine disease is a serious neurological illness which is one of the top 20 most disabling conditions world-wide. Chronic Migraine sufferers have Migraines 15 or more days per month. For some of us, Botox helps prevent or lessen the impact of some of the Migraine attacks. The Botox is not injected in places that would help anyone with their wrinkles. It may be surprising, or sound strange, but it’s not a joking matter. I don’t think you intended to offend, but please understand that your comment trivializes a very real disease suffered by 36 million people in the USA alone.

What do you think? Am I doing right by our cause?

- Megan

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Posted in Advocacy, Communicating, Current Affairs, Medicine, Rant | Comments (1)

Botox for Head Implosion, not Explosion?

February 17th, 2010

A new study of 18 Migraine sufferers reported in the Archives of Dermatology Monday indicates that Botox may be helpful for those who describe their pain as “crushing” or “eye-popping.” That’s an interesting new distinction. So, not so good for those of us, like me, who walk around saying “My head explode!”

It’s hard to say how significant a study of 18 patients is, and previous reports on Botox for Migraines have been mixed at best. This study reports an average reduction from 7 Migraines per month to 1 Migraine per month, among those who responded to the Botox. You can read a bit more about the study here: Does Botox Stop Some Migraines? in the Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune. What really interests me, though, is the fact that the description of the pain itself is indicative of whether the Botox will help or not. Pain is so subjective, and so difficult to measure, it’s fascinating that there could be a correlation between how we experience the pain and the mechanics of our Migraines.

I’m imagining a time when you can describe your pain, and get a specific treatment for it. Head imploding? Try this. Head exploding? Try that. What about that one where little people with grapefruit spoons are trying to scrape your brain off the inside of your skull? I hate that one.

- Megan

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Posted in Current Affairs, Medicine, Musings | Comments (5)

Botox for Migraine Treatment – News?

March 10th, 2008

In today’s London Daily Mail, reporter Theresa Devereux raises the question:  Can botox injections poison your body?   According to Devereux, this question was studied by Dr. Walter Herzog of the University of Calgary, Alberta, who found that the toxins in botox may not stay localized in the muscles into which they are injected.  The abstract of the research by Dr. Herzog, M. Yaraskavitch & T. Leonard, published on January 9, 2008, can be found in the Journal of Biomechanics here. Dr. Herzog et al studied the effect of botox injections in cats and concluded that the injections caused measurable weakness in neighboring muscle groups.

Read the entire Daily Mail article here.

The US Food & Drug Adminstration (FDA) has been investigating reports of severe side effects from some medical uses of botox, and conducting their safety review, for some time.  It is not clear to me whether the results of Dr. Herzog’s study add anything new.

Given that botox is based on the toxin botulinum, which causes muscle paralysis, if it spreads beyond the injection site into other muscles, the consequences could be serious.  Devereux states:

The FDA is not advising doctors to stop prescribing the drug, but
they are conducting a safety review and say the reactions may be due to
overdosing.  However, they are warning patients that they should receive
immediate medical attention if they have worsening or unexpected
difficulty in swallowing or talking, trouble breathing or muscle
weakness following any injection of Botox.

The dangers appear to be acknowledged in the Botox labeling.  Migraine Blog reported on February 8, 2008, that:

The Warnings sections of the labeling for both botulinum toxin products
note that important systemic adverse effects, including severe
difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing have occurred in
patients with neuromuscular disorders after local injection of typical
doses of botulinum toxin.  FDA now has evidence that similar,
potentially life-threatening systemic toxicity from the use of
botulinum toxin products can also result after local injection in
patients with other underlying conditions such as those with cerebral
palsy associated limb spasticity. Systemic toxicity has been reported
in children, several of whom required feeding tubes and/or ventilation
(breathing) support.

Migraineurs please read the research, and follow up with your doctor if you have any concerns.

- Megan Oltman

hypodermic image courtesy of happysnappr/Adrian Clark

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Posted in Medicine | Comments (2)

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