Health Team

Wrinkle-eraser helping migraine sufferers?

Posted November 22, 2010

Millions of people suffer from chronic migraines every year, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just approved an unconventional treatment involving a medicine used to erase wrinkles.

Teresa Cantilli suffered with severe migraines for 18 years and sometimes couldn’t make it through the workday.

The 49-year-old tried medication after medication, but nothing helped. As a last resort, her doctor recommended an unconventional treatment – Botox.

“I was a little afraid to try it at first,” she said.

Botox is well known for getting rid of wrinkles, but it was first used to treat people with eye muscle disorders.

“Some of them also had migraine headaches or other types of headaches, and they found that, 'When I got the injections in the forehead, when I got injections around the eyes, it actually seemed to help my headaches,'” said Dr. Robert Duarte with the Long Island Jewish Pain and Headache Treatment Center.

Botox for migraines? Botox for migraines?

Doctors have been using Botox to treat migraines for years without specific approval for using the drug for that purpose. The FDA recently approved the treatment for people who suffer at least 15 or more days of the headaches every month.

The injections block the transmission of chemical signals from the nerve to the muscle, causing the muscles to relax. Migraine sufferers need 20 to 30 injections in the forehead, temples and neck.

“The goal is not to cure headaches; it is to decrease the intensity, the frequency of the headache,” Duarte said.

Cantilli says it's working for her.

“I was able to function much better (and) manage the migraines with less medication,” she said.

Cantilli needs injections every three months because the muscles eventually return to normal. And while she says she can feel those needle pricks, she says it's nothing compared to the pain of migraines.

Migraine headaches are sometimes called "sick headaches" because they often are accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.


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  • marymorris Nov 29, 2010

    Having horrific migraines myself,I might try Botox.When you have
    a migraine,you're willing to do ANYTHING to have the pain,nausea,vomiting,sensitivity to light and sound go away.I would think that most migraine sufferers have gone through the gambit of dr.s and ALL of their of tests,drugs and other things they can think up. I know I have.By keeping a diary I discovered my migraine trigger,there is no cure for it.Weather! When we have severe storms come through,I can be in bed incapacitated for days.I wish they could come up with a cure for weather patterns.I'm not talking a rain or snow shower here or there,I'm talking tornado or hurricane type weather.I have other triggers,but these are the worst. I guess I wanted to let Baybee Doll know that most of us do go to dr.s and have had all the expensive tests,MRI's,CT scans,you name it.Migraines are very hard to diagnose and most of the time,unfortunately, the diagnosis can only be made from the symptoms.We aren't hypocondriacs.

  • Kelondris Nov 29, 2010

    I used to get migraines from clenching my jaw from stress. But a friend recommended to take a Calcium supplement with Magnesium & D3 vitamin and it works. Also a close friend used to suffer with bad/migraine headaches daily and started taking just Magnesium and hasn't had but a couple since.

    It might not work for everyone, but for those who do, it is worth it. And I would rather take a vitamin-mineral supplement for things I need anyways than a med that has side affects.

  • betty1980 Nov 29, 2010

    I've been treated (successfully) for chronic migraines with botox. The patients approved to use botox have migraines (not simple headaches) 15 days or more a month. At this point, a patient is willing to try anything to keep from missing more work and time with friends/family. At the time I agreed to be stuck with needles 30 times in my head and neck, I had every evaluation and treatment in the book since I started suffering from migraines at age 5 - including MRIs and checks for deficiencies (@Baybee Doll). It is a personal decision, and yes, the botox might stop working if a person continues use, but so do oral medications. Sick of being on drugs and wanting to have a social life at age 23, I was ecstatic that something finally eased my pain. Don't knock it until you try it.

  • Malcontent Nov 24, 2010

    This might be good in the short term for these sufferers. But, as I understand it, people who regularly use Botox eventually become resistant to it. When that happens, what will they do?

  • TriangleMommy Nov 24, 2010

    As a migraine sufferer I will NEVER allow this to be injected into me!

    And yes - Baybee Doll - I've had MRIs and doctors have a probable cause as to why I get migraines.

  • Baybee Doll Nov 23, 2010

    Wonder if any of these migraine sufferers have been evaluated for possible causes of the migraines. Have they had MRIs done or been evaluated for TMJ? Have they been checked for a vitamin deficiency? Probably not.

    Doctors need to focus more on cause and effect than medicate and shove out the door.

  • Seeminglyopposed Nov 23, 2010

    I am a mirgrain sufferer and know who they feel, but I think I will continue my medications before I result to this type of treatments of botox.