Did you know there are 11 types of headaches, each with varying causes and symptoms, and all are painful in fluctuating degrees? Fortunately, most headaches are common and short lived, however one type of headache may prove to be life altering.
Migraine headaches typically occur on one side and may be accompanied by throbbing, nausea, and/or sensitivity to light and sound. Some may experience an aura of lights or flashing just prior to the migraine and while there are different triggers to set off a migraine, there is more and more evidence of genetics playing a role.
Common migraines may last one to several days and may be alleviated by OTC (over the counter) medication like Ibuprofen, rest, or ice. Chronic Migraines, however, are more serious and more difficult to treat. These headaches last 15 or more days a month for a period of three or more months. In the past, prescription medications were commonly used as were alternative approaches like meditation and acupuncture.
Some fast facts about migraines:
- They affect over 4 million people daily in the United States
- 85% of all sufferers are women
- 70% have a family history of migraines
- 91% are unable to work or function normally during their episodes
While medications are helpful for the onset of a migraine attack, it is important to avoid overuse of these medications. Currently the only FDA approved intervention for Chronic Migraine is Botox or Onabotulinumtoxin A and has been in use for over ten years. It is also effective in relieving spasticity (muscle contraction) and cervical dystonia (painful spastic twisting of the head). The treatment is performed in office and takes about 30 minutes or less. A tiny dose of the Botox is injected into specific nerve endings to block pain signals to the brain. The most common side effect is a temporary sore neck which may be alleviated with icing.
Ashot Kotcharian, MD is a Board Certified Interventional Pain Management physician at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates. He joined the orthopedic group after serving as Assistant Professor of PM&R at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. SOA has three locations and offers appointments on a same day/next day basis when needed. For more information go to www.SOA.md or call 941.951.BONE.