Using Botox to Treat Migraines at Lakewood
Lakewood Health System and Dr. Arden Beachy are employing a new method to help patients in the treatment of migraine headaches. Botox – famously known for smoothing out wrinkles on the face – is now the latest tool in providing relief to migraine headache suffers and the results have been extremely encouraging.
A migraine isn’t just an average headache. Migraines are strong, pounding headaches typically on one side of the head which can include several other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Patients with chronic migraine headaches typically experience headaches more than 15 days each month and often struggle to participate in day-to-day family, work, and social activities.
FDA-approved in 2010 for the treatment of migraines in adults who are age 18 or over, Botox works by blocking the release of certain brain chemicals and preventing the movement of certain muscles. Through a series of small injections described to feel like pinpricks, Botox is injected around pain fibers that are typically involved in the development of headaches. Botox enters the nerve endings around the injection sites and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. Each treatment typically involves 31 injections in seven key areas of the head and neck.
“Don’t let the needle scare you,” said Dr. Beachy. “The Botox injections themselves are relatively painless. Patients may experience a slight sting with each injection, but the process is quick, simple, and generally takes only three to five minutes to complete.”
“I’ve treated nearly 50 different patients using this treatment and I’ve only witnessed one who has not experienced improvement,” said Dr. Beachy. “Using Botox, the majority of patients not only see a reduction in the number of headaches each month, the intensity of headaches is also reduced. Some patients experiencing 15 or more headaches each month, now are only having only 6 or 7. The effectiveness varies for each individual patient, but overall I have seen very positive results.”
Lakewood patient and long-time chronic migraine sufferer Kari Jo Erickson is one patient who has seen tremendous improvement. “Botox treatment has reduced the number of migraine headache days I experience by half, and when I do get a migraine now, my medication typically takes care of it,” said Erickson. “There was a time when my migraines required me to go to the emergency room two to three times a week. That number has been reduced to two to three times a year. This treatment has had a huge impact on my quality of life and the fact that I don’t have to travel far to get it is wonderful.”
Dr. Beachy points out that signs of improvement can take as long as 10 to 14 days after injection. Also, some people may experience minimal relief with their first set of injections, but follow-up treatments often prove more successful. A single treatment lasts 10-12 weeks, however for some patients, it can take up to 3 or 4 sessions to see the maximum benefit from Botox. In the meantime, patients can continue their regular medications with no risk of a drug interaction. The most common side effect from the Botox treatment is a sore neck, slight bruising, swelling, or irritation.
Will my insurance cover Botox?
Most insurance providers do indeed cover the expense of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraines, however, Dr. Beachy encourages patients to check with their insurance company regarding coverage. Often times before an insurance company will approve Botox as a treatment, patients must have tried and failed to respond to two other preventative treatments. Once approved, insurance will typically cover up to two trial sessions of Botox treatment for migraines, after which time the patient needs to show demonstrated improvement in order to continue.
“This is a procedure that often requires patients to drive to larger metro markets,” said Dr. Beachy. “It’s a treatment that doesn’t get enough attention and has a tremendous impact on the lives of migraine suffers. I’m excited to help patients with this and I’m proud to offer it right here at Lakewood.”
To find our more information or see if you are a candidate for Botox migraine treatments, talk with your provider.