Migraine affects about 15% of the UK population with a female ratio of 3:1. This condition is most common in those in their late teens to around 50 years of age. It can have a huge impact on an individuals quality of life which results in 100,000 school or work absences every day in the UK.
So what is a Chronic Migraine? It affects around 2% of the UK population and is defined as having a headache on more days than not (at least 15 days a month) for more than 3 months, with features of a migraine such as nausea, visual or noise disturbance, for 8 of the headache days.
You should always see your GP if you suffer with chronic headaches or migraines. It needs to be diagnosed accurately.
Steps in treatment:
1. There are a wide range of 1st line medications - oral triptans e.g. sumatriptan, non steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets, aspirin and paracetamol or a combination of these. Be aware that overuse of these medications can also cause a headache.
2. Once these medications have been tried your GP may prescribe medications to reduce the amount of headaches you get. These are amitriptyline, and other medications such as Propranolol or Topiramate.
3. If the above are unsuitable/ineffective or cause too many side effects then you could try Acupuncture over 5-8 weeks, or unlicensed Gabapentin can be prescribed by your GP.
4. Botox can be offered on the NHS if you meet the criteria and have tried all of the above medications.
However, if you don’t meet the NHS criteria or if you don't want to try an abundance of medications with side affects, then the solution could be Botox privately.
How does treatment with Botox work in chronic migraine?
In chronic migraine, Botox is believed to work by inhibiting the nerves that cause pain. Therefore, it is a preventative treatment to reduce the onset of a migraine.
Typically patients report that having Botox for their headaches reduces having pain from 3 out of 4 weeks down to 1 in 4 weeks. This means your quality of life will improve significantly! - Click here to read Helena’s experience
How will the Botox be given?
There are 31 injection sites into 7 head and neck muscle areas with a very fine needle. If your headache is in a specific area additional injections can be given to tailor the treatment for you. The procedure only takes about 15 minutes.
Being a facial aesthetic doctor and also a specialist GP with an interest in headaches I will ensure you are not in discomfort for the treatment and make sure that the Botox given in your forehead is in the correct muscles to keep you looking fabulous.
Chronic Migraine Treatment - Case Study
Over 13 years ago I was diagnosed with ‘Chronic Neck’ pain. Following CT, MRI, and x-ray scans, no structural damage could be found, and I was told, it’s more than likely to be nerve/muscle damage as a result of bad posture.
From this point forwards my life changed. On a daily basis, my medication consisted of strong Anti Inflammatory tablets, Co-dydramol and amitriptyline for pain relief. All of which would leave me feeling groggy and lethargic but did however reduce the pain to a level at which I could go about my daily business.
The pain was originally isolated to the back of my head, toward the base of my skull and then over later years all across my forehead. After many tests and consultant appointments, they told me that the muscle was pulling from the back of my head all they way across to my forehead, nose and around my eyes.
After a while I started to squint and this made the pain even worse. When it was really bad, I would vomit and take to my bed for hours upon end. I had heard about Botox and decided to give it try. I had a small injection in between my brows and 14 days later the squinting stopped. And the headaches got slightly better, with a major reduction in the pain on my forehead.
Over the years I have had, Physiotherapy, Ultrasound, Bowen therapy, Acupuncture, Visited an Osteopath, a Chiropractor. Had numerous Nerve blocks both on through the NHS and privately. I’ve had Steroid injections and injections of local aesthetic. All of which would provide some pain relief for short periods of time.
When I met Sarah, she gave me a consultation, and a pain diary to complete. After a few weeks I had my first session. I had injections to my shoulders, at the back of my head, to the sides of my head above my ears and to my forehead. It was painless and Sarah explained exactly what she was doing every step of the way.
It took about 14 days to take full effect.
I have had this treatment 3 times now, and it’s amazing. It lasts for approximately three months. Every time I have it, I have an overall pain reduction of over 90%. Which means that I have to take no pain relief. I feel more energetic, have no nausea and sleep so much better.
I hope to continue with this treatment for the foreseeable future.
It may take 10-14 days to see an improvement in your migraine/headache symptoms.
Reduction in your headaches
Reduce the duration of headaches
Improve your quality of life, work, school and social life