Fed up of recurring headaches? Tried various drugs to get rid of the chronic pain, but to no avail? Here, is some hope with a new treatment based on a non-surgical cosmetic procedure.
Medical journals show that headache is a universal experience with over 100 types so far, and one of the most recurring ones is migraine, which affects about 10-12 per cent of the global population, being three times more common in women than in men.
According to assistant professor at the Gulf Medical College in Ajman Dr Mohamed Hamdy, when migraine becomes chronic — occurring more than 15 days a month — it can disrupt a person’s daily life to a great degree. Dr Hamdy, also a neurology specialist with GMC Hospital, told Khaleej Times that botulinum toxin, commonly known as botox, that is basically used to reduce facial wrinkles, has proved effective in treating chronic migraine since it was first introduced for the purpose some four years ago.
Botox has been licenced for treating chronic migraine by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency — a UK government agency, since July 2010, he added. “Botox is being used in treating migraine at the Rashid Hospital, Dubai, and some private centres in the UAE.”
The botox-based procedure, approved in treating migraine and being provided at the Rashid Hospital and some private centres here, is much better and effective than all the drugs being prescribed for the chronic headache, he said. He said he has fruitfully tried the mostly insurance-covered treatment with ten patients so far at the GMC Hospital, Ajman.
“Though no side effects or major changes have been recorded, bumps and redness are sometimes noticed, but disappear after two hours. Headache, migraine, rash, itching, muscle pain, and drooping of the upper eyelid are further temporary effects that appear in less than one in every ten patients.”
Dr Hamdy, who is a member of the World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology, said unlike many of the other conditions in which botox is used, it is not thought to work by relaxing overactive muscles.
“Use of botox has helped reduce pain in a number of patients with diseases including cervical dystonia, neuropathic pain, lower back pain, spasticity, myofascial pain, and bladder pain.”
Dr Hamdy said botox is believed to inhibit the release of peripheral nociceptive neurotransmitters. “It may then have a knock-on effect on the central pain processing systems that generate migraine headaches.”
He said researchers found a positive correlation among the number of trigger points in a patient, the number of monthly crises and the duration, in years, of the condition. “Some 95 per cent of migraine sufferers have trigger points, of which the most common are the anterior temporal and the sub-occipital region, both bilateral, of the head.”
Dr Hamdy said it took him 20 minutes to inject minimum 155 Allergan units (more than 1.5 vial) into more than 16 different points in the head. “The procedure, costing Dh3,000 has proved very effective in reducing migraine pain, hours and days for three to six months.”
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