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Migraines are a sad fact of life for many of us. At best, they can be debilitating; at worst they can literally wipe out the hours in which they strike, causing us lock ourselves away in a dark room and hope to ride them out.
They’re more common than most people think, affecting around one in 15 men and, interestingly, one in five women, partly because they are linked to estrogen which regulates the female reproductive system.
And while most of us tend to seek relief in everything from over-the-counter pain killers to lifestyle changes, regular sufferers are increasingly turning to toxin injection treatment (aka Botox).
That’s not as odd as it may sound. There is growing evidence that botulinum toxin type A is effective in getting into the C-fibres, the tiny nerves that carry pain from the head to the brain, especially when used in small doses on targeted areas of the body.
The effect can be to reduce the amount of chemicals released from the nerve ending and so interrupting the feedback pathway responsible for bringing on a headache.
What does a typical toxin treatment for migraines involve?
A series of tiny injections under the skin or into the muscles of areas such as the neck and shoulders and in and around the forehead and above the ears. Responses can be quite swift, normally after the first or second set of injections.
How effective is it?
Responses vary from patient to patient. Migraine toxin treatment injections are repeated every 12 weeks but it’s important to note that the goal here is not to stop them all together but reduce their frequency enough to improve quality of life.