Omaha Public Radio News
4:44 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

The FDA approves Botox as a treatment for chronic migraines

Omaha, NE – 12% of the population in the US suffers from migraine headaches. Many of them don't seek treatment because they don't want to take oral medications or they fear potential side effects.

Neurologist Dr. Pam Santamaria says she's found a positive treatment in Botox. She has been treating patients suffering from chronic migraine headaches by injecting them with Botox for about five years. Patients have had to pay for their treatments in cash up until now.

A few months back, the FDA approved Botox as a treatment for chronic migraine headaches. Dr. Santamaria says migraines tend to be unilateral or one side of the head. Additionally, she says people with migraines usually suffer from light sensitivity, noise sensitivity and nausea. She says the shots may help.

"The research studies suggest all patients that are getting Botox injections, 50% of those patients will have some kind of reduction in their headache, either in the severity or frequency of their headaches. In my clinical experience, I'm getting higher percentages than that. I have patients that had been getting headaches every day come back and report maybe one or two headaches over a three month period of time, so we've seen some really substantial results with it."

Dr. Santamaria cautions that the treatment won't work for everyone but says it's worth a try. She says the treatment is available only for those who have migraine headaches more than 15 days a month, lasting at least four hours a day.

The Botox treatments last anywhere from three to six months depending on the individual.