Most of us are aware of the cosmetic benefits of using botulinum toxin treatment, or ‘botox’ to reduce those tell-tale wrinkles. However, what is less commonly known is that Botox is used therapeutically to treat patients suffering from conditions such as migraine headaches and chronic lid spasms.
Migraine headaches can be a debilitating condition, and we often see patients who are concerned by the disturbing visual auras occurring in both ocular and classical migraines. Dr. Lyn Pascoe at Viva Medical in Duncan has been successfully treating chronic migraine patients with botox injections for over 15 years. While the mechanism of action is not clearly understood, it is thought that migraine sufferers have increased receptor sensitivity to various triggers, like changes in barometric patterns for example. She states that “Botox is thought to reset the various receptors so that when there are triggers, the receptors are less likely to fire and send messages through to the brain.” This ceasefire stops the cascade of events that ultimately leads to the painful vascular headache. Using a protocol set by neurologists for specific injection sites in the head and neck, Dr. Pascoe reports that after a minimum of 3 treatments, patient’s frequency and severity of migraine events are dramatically decreased.
Dr. Cory Ramstead, one of our area ophthalmologists, routinely treats chronic lid spasms also known as benign essential blepharospasm. This is a condition in which the muscles around the eyes involuntarily spasm, causing the eyes to close. It tends to affect patients over the age of 50 and can be very disabling. He states “there are several treatments but the most effective treatment for patients is botulinum toxin. I provide this service to patients and do an injection clinic once a month in my office. The medication is injected through a fine needle in the area around the muscles that close the eyes. Patients can still open and close their eyes normally after the injections as only the larger muscles that spasm are paralyzed. The medication helps with the symptoms for about three months.” How safe is this botox treatment? A retrospective study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology reports that patients treated for a minimum of 15 consecutive years had no major adverse events.
By reducing the physically and visually disabling effects of conditions such as migraines and blepharospasm, therapeutic botox can claim a rightful place in benefiting patient’s future of vision.