By Margarita Nahapetyan
Botulinum toxin type A, commonly known as Botox, Allergan Inc.'s drug that can temporarily erase facial wrinkles and fine lines, may also prevent some certain types of migraines, that are described by sufferers as crushing or "eye-popping," otherwise known as ocular migraines, a new small study suggests.
The study's principal author Dr. Christine C. Kim, from Skincare Physicians in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, said that the injections of Botox were highly effective against crippling pain which made migraine patients feel as if their head was going to "implode". However, the jabs turned out to be less efficient with migraines which caused the sensation of pressure pushing against the head that could "explode."
The study experiments were conducted including 18 migraine patients with an average age of 51 years, who were already being administered or were planning to receive Botox injections for cosmetic purposes. Of these, 10 patients reported an eye popping imploding migraine headaches, while nine migraine sufferers described their pain as splitting or exploding. Some patients reported having more than one type of migraine.
Three months after treatment with botulinum, it was found that 13 participants had responded to the treatment with a reduction in migraine pain, including ten who had reported having imploding or ocular migraine headaches and 3 who had exploding migraine headaches. All six of the patients who did not respond to the treatment with Botox had experienced exploding headaches.
Among all those participants who responded to the treatment, frequency of migraines was reduced to an average of 0.7 days per month from an average of 6.8 days per month. Patients who reported having exploding migraine headaches had an average drop in migraine frequency to 9.4 days a month from 11.4 days a month, and among those 10 sufferers who experienced imploding or ocular migraine headaches the average migraine frequency was reduced even more from an average of 7.1 days per month to 0.6 days per month.
Why Botox, which is known to produce muscle paralysis, reduces migraine pain is not clear yet, the experts say. The only explanation for now is that it may work by affecting the way by which pain signals are transmitted through the nervous system, or its ability to block pain receptors or reduce inflammation.
While the new results are preliminary, Dr. Kim and her colleagues have a hope that their findings may eventually help the investigators figure out how botulinum toxin A injections stop migraine pain, which patients will respond favorably, and what the proper doses and injection locations should be. However, researchers also said that more studies are needed before the conclusions could be finally confirmed.
The new findings are published in the February issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.