The American Migraine Foundation estimates that 39 million people in the United States struggle with migraines. These disabling headaches are more common in women than men, typically occurring between ages 25 and 55, but also affect 10% of children and teens.
Migraines are a neurological disorder that may cause intense throbbing, often one-sided head pain, nausea, dizziness, and moderate to severe sensitivity to light and noise. Episodic migraines can occur several times yearly and may last hours to days.
Chronic migraine symptoms are similar to episodic migraines, but the attacks occur more frequently and the symptoms often increase in severity. Experiencing 15 headache days per month for more than three months is the classic definition of chronic migraine.
“Headache days” include fatigue, irritability, and other symptoms that begin before the headache and may last for hours after the pain resolves.
Migraine treatment often focuses on identifying and avoiding your migraine triggers, including stress, certain foods, lack of sleep, or skipping meals. Your plan for episodic migraines may also include medication taken as needed to relieve pain, nausea, and other migraine symptoms.
However, because of the debilitating effects of chronic migraine, the treatment focus often shifts to prevention and treating periodic breakthrough headaches.
Based on evaluation results, Dr. Steeves may recommend beta blockers, anti-seizure drugs, or Botox injections to prevent or reduce migraine frequency and intensity.
Botox is a neuromodulator that blocks naturally occurring chemicals (neurotransmitters) your brain uses to transmit signals along your nerves.
For instance, Botox helps prevent wrinkles on your forehead or around your eyes by blocking messages that cause muscles to contract when you smile or frown. Botox is also helpful in preventing muscle spasticity related to multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.
Research is ongoing, but it’s likely Botox injections help prevent migraines by modifying the pain signals traveling from your brain to sensory nerves, which are known to become inflamed and hypersensitive during a migraine attack.
The effects are temporary, lasting 3-4 months on average. Botox injections don’t eliminate migraines entirely but may reduce their frequency by as much as 75%. It also helps:
At Valley Neurology, your specialist works closely with you to create a migraine treatment strategy that includes the therapies most effective at reducing your pain and restoring your quality of life.