An Overview of Migraines and Treatment from Colorado Clinic

Migraine headaches, described as severe, throbbing head pain, are extremely painful, debilitating, headaches that affect over thirty six million Americans. Migraines can affect anyone of any age but most often affects women between the ages of eighteen and fifty five. Migraines tend to be hereditary, and women are three times more likely to suffer migraines than are men. A female born to parents that both suffer migraines stands a 90%+ chance of also suffering migraines.

What are the symptoms of migraine headaches?Migraine headaches

Symptoms of migraine headaches are described as severe and throbbing head pain, most often affecting only one side of the head, but in approximately one third of cases affect both sides. Sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, and blurred vision may also accompany the head pain, which often lasts for several hours at a time, but can last for days at a time.

The migraine headache is often preceded by an aura of light, spots, light flashes, or tingling in one arm or one leg. Other early warning symptoms include depression, craving certain foods, becoming irritable, constipation, becoming hyperactive, neck pain, yawning.

How are migraine headaches diagnosed?

Your Colorado pain management doctor will discuss your symptoms and family history with you. They may prescribe certain blood work to be done to look for infections and toxins that may be present in your system. Other testing includes CT scan (computerized tomography), and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in order to get clear views of the blood vessels of your brain to determine if there are any abnormalities, and to look for other possible causes such as tumors or brain damage. If infection of the brain or spinal fluid is suspected your doctor may order a spinal tap, (also called a lumbar puncture) to obtain a sample of spinal fluid for further testing.

What treatments are available for migraine headaches?

Treatments for migraines range from OTC (over the counter medications) like aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen sodium (Aleve), which may help somewhat taken in combination rather than any one alone. If these medications prove ineffective patients may try triptans. These drugs, like Imitrex (sumatriptan), Axert (almotriptan), Frova (frovatriptan), Maxalt (rizatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), are often effective in relieving the pain of migraines. These drugs are available in pill form and also injection and nasal spray forms. It has been proven that one of the most effective treatments for the most severe migraine headaches are Botox injections.

What are expectations when a patient receives Botox injections?

Patients who receive Botox injections report a high success rate for relieving the symptoms of their migraine headaches. The FDA has approved them to be used every three months for the relief of chronic migraines.botox-bold-logo

How are Botox injections performed?

Botox injections are a fairly simple procedure and are performed by injection the drug OnabotulinumtoxinA into the muscles of the neck and forehead. If the injections prove to be effective in relieving the patients’ symptoms from migraine headaches the procedure is then repeated every 90 days.

How long do the Botox injections last?

The effects from the Botox injections last for about three months; the procedure is repeated every 90 days to provide ongoing relief from the symptoms of migraine headaches.

What risk or side effects are possible with Botox injections?

As with many medical procedures there are some slight risks but their occurrence is very rare. Side effects from Botox injections can include difficulty swallowing or breathing, muscle spasms in the area of injection, and muscle weakness. One side effect that may actually be desired for some patients is the tightening of loose skin as Botox injections are also used cosmetically to reduce wrinkles.

How successful are Botox injections for the relief of pain?

Most patients who receive Botox injections report a significant decrease in both the frequency and severity of their migraines.