Botulinum toxin jabs may benefit migraine patients

Botulinum toxin injections may alleviate symptoms of some types of migraine, early findings by a US research group suggest.

Botulinum toxin: cosmetic injections reduced headache frequency
Botulinum toxin: cosmetic injections reduced headache frequency

Dr Christine Kim and colleagues from a Massachusetts practice examined 18 patients receiving cosmetic botulinum toxin type A injections and also suffering from migraine headaches.

Botulinum toxin injections were linked to a reduction in headache frequency in 13 patients. This included 10 with 'imploding' or 'ocular' headaches and three with 'exploding' headaches.

Patients who responded to the injections experienced an average reduction in migraine frequency of almost 90 per cent.

Six patients who did not respond to the injections all had exploding headaches.

The researchers concluded that patients with imploding and ocular headaches are more responsive to botulinum toxin than to those with exploding headaches.

Writing in the Archives of Dermatology, Dr Kim and her team said it was still unclear how botulinum toxin prevents migraine headaches.

Previous studies have suggested links between botulinum toxin injections and migraine pain relief but failed to deliver consistent results.

The toxin produces muscle paralysis, but this alone does not explain how it may prevent migraine pain, the authors said.

They said research indicates botulinum toxin may affect the way pain signals travel through the nervous system, block pain receptors or reduce inflammation.

'Our findings invite consideration of using botulinum toxin injections to prevent migraine headaches and may promote the role of the dermatologist in the treatment of patients with migraine,' said the authors.

Archives of Dermatology Online 2010.

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