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HeadWay, Issue #093 -- The Quick Story on BOTOX
February 20, 2012

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In this month's issue:

The Quick Story on Botox

Express Yourself! Contest - Ending soon!

Say what?!  Toxin

The Quick Story on Botox

Botox continues to make headlines.  But as always, the conflicting information is confusing.  Here's a quick guide to the world of Botox, migraine, and headache...

What is Botox?

Botox is the brand name for botulinum toxin A (onabotulinumtoxinA).  It started as a treatment for wrinkles - discovered in Canada in 1987 and pioneered in 1991 by Dr. Michael Kane.  Injections of Botox in the head and neck are now treatments for conditions such as migraine and tension type headache.  (Read more about the actual treatment in Botox Headache Injection)

Why does it work?

We're not 100% sure how it works.  It's easy to assume that Botox relaxes the muscles and eases tension.  However, even when Botox is injected in areas without muscle, it still seems to have an effect.  Many now believe that it is involved in blocking certain pain signals that are a part of the headache or migraine chain-reaction.  (Read more in Botox for Migraine – how does it actually work?)

The Political Side of the Story

This is not necessarily a point in favour of or against Botox.  But as with many drugs and treatments for migraine and headache, a LOT of money is involved.  That means that it's very tempting to manipulate the facts, suppress studies that aren't in your favour, and push to sell your product regardless of whether it's safe or the best option for the patient.

The makers of Botox have been very aggressive in the promotion of their product.  We don't know everything that goes on behind the scenes - but remember to be cautious.  Just because a treatment sounds great on TV or internet forums doesn't mean it's the best thing for you.  And just because Botox manages to keep itself in the news doesn't mean it the best treatment.  (For an example, read By the Way – Botox Lawsuit one to Watch...)

What do the "experts" say?

The experts are not of one mind when it comes to Botox.  It's not that Botox doesn't help anyone - it does.  But does it help enough people - consistently - to be considered a mainstream migraine or tension type headache treatment?  (For a recent example, read Questions about Botox in the UK)

Are there dangers?

As with just about any treatment, there are dangers when it comes to Botox treatment.  However, these risks are lessened if you receive treatment from someone who is experienced in giving treatment for your condition (ie migraine).

Upon the approval of Botox for chronic migraine in the USA, the FDA said:  OnabotulinumtoxinA, marketed as Botox and Botox Cosmetic, has a boxed warning that says the effects of the botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to other areas of the body, causing symptoms similar to those of botulism... There has not been a confirmed serious case of spread of toxin effect when Botox has been used at the recommended dose to treat chronic migraine...

[Not sure what they mean be serious - the symptoms can be life threatening.  Either way, the key is to find someone who knows what they're doing.]

Canada has issued similar warnings.  However, this doesn't include the other side effects that may come with a Botox treatment.

Should I try it?

I'm not your doctor, so I can't answer that question!  However, here are some things to consider:
  • Botox treatment has helped many, particularly with chronic migraine.  But everyone is different, and different doctors will give the treatment differently.  Botox by no means helps everyone.  In fact, there's probably only a small percentage of sufferers that will be significantly helped by Botox.
  • Botox is by no means the first thing you should try.  There are many, many treatments available.  If your doctor says you've tried them all, she's wrong.  Find another doctor.  Now.
  • The decision depends largely on your own medical history.  Discuss the risks and other options with your doctor.
More thoughts here - Botox Treatment For Migraines

Express Yourself! Contest - Ending soon!

Did you know?  There's an exciting contest happening at Headache and Migraine News!  It's all about being creative - paintings, drawings, photos - anything to explain your cluster headache symptoms, or your migraine aura, or your headache pain, or your life with chronic headache - and so on.

The prizes?  A beautiful hardcover book, a highly rated digital camera, and more!

But the contest closes at the end of the day on the 22nd of February - Wednesday.  So don't delay!  Enter now - and tell your artistic friends!  When more people enter, more people win!

See the rules here:
Express Yourself! Contest

Say what?!  Toxin

Wait a sec - if Botox is a toxin - well, that's bad, right?

Not necessarily.  A toxin is defined in the Oxford dictionary as a poison of plant or animal origin, especially one produced by or derived from microorganisms and acting as an antigen in the body.

Botox as a toxin can be life threatening.  But in small quantities, even a toxin can be a health product.  It was over 100 years ago that botulinum toxin was first considered in medical treatment, and it had been used for various therapeutic uses for over 30 years.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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