A Migraine (Without the Wrinkles)

Australian chronic migraine sufferers, who have just about given up hope, after trying at least three preventive medications, may have reason to have a spring in their step… the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has started funding Botox injections to prevent chronic migraines.

What are headaches?

(Lucky you, if you have to ask!)

migrainesHeadaches are quite literally, an ache (sore sensation) in the head. They are often a symptom of a pathological systemic process, such as dehydration, fasting, illness, stress or medication side effects. Most people will get a headache from time to time, with mild to moderate discomfort.

Botox, which has various cosmetic and medicinal uses (Good-bye wrinkles!), is subsidised for adults who suffer headaches for at least 15 days a month.

Types of headache include:

  • Common headache
  • Tension headache
  • Migraines
  • Rebound headache
  • Drug related headache
  • Coital headache (a rare type of severe headache that occurs at the base of the skull before orgasm during sexual activity)
  • Food reaction headache

Rarely a headache is an indication of something more serious including haemorrhagic stroke, infection, hypertension (high blood pressure) and tumour. If you are experiencing a sudden onset of the “worst headache” of your life, consult immediate emergency medical attention.

How the brain experiences pain

The brain is a complex network of nerves, which transmit messages throughout the body. The symptoms of both headaches and migraines may feel like the brain is in pain, however; the brain itself does not experience sensation. The membrane of and vessels in the brain, and pain sensitive structures (neck, face, sinus, eyes, and ears) near the brain have a network of sensory nerves. The brain expresses the messages of pain from these neighbouring structures as a headache. This shows us why headaches are so common and causes so varied.

What are migraines?

Migraines are less common than common headaches. Around 20% of the population have experienced a migraine. Predisposition to migraines include female gender, under the age of 40 and family history. It is said that migraines are more common in people with high stress lifestyles or low mood, however; these two factors may not show true cause-and-effect.

Chronic illness (such as chronic headaches or migraines) is known to cause low mood and increased lifestyle stress. The World Health Organisation research concluded that a chronic headache has a greater impact on functioning than other neurological diseases. Furthermore, the WHO highlighted that the impact of migraines is upon not only individuals, but also workplaces and the economy. 36% of migraine suffers reported taking at least 2 sick days a month because of migraines. A proportion of this group were unable to work full-time.

Unlike tension headaches, which are localised to the forehead region, pain associated with migraines is located to one side of the head. The pain is described as throbbing and unbearable, and can be made worse by movement. Individuals may also suffer from in the lead up to, during or after a migraine:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Smell sensitivity
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Physical weakness
  • General malaise
  • Visual disturbances called auras before the migraine begins.
  • Confusion

It is helpful to manage your migraines with a health professional. Keep a diary of symptoms to help diagnose your migraines accurately and keep note any triggers such a medications, alcohol, illness and stress.

Migraine treatment

pain-pills-690x388Traditionally, migraine treatment consists of a range of medications that are preventative and acute responses. Analgesia is an accessible and first line response to migraines, which can be managed by the individual at home and in consultation with a pharmacist. Usual analgesia includes paracetamol, codeine and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Each analgesic migraine treatment has benefits, and many people may choose a combination of medicines to reduce the severity of symptoms of migraines.

Migraines may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, making oral medication difficult to take without anti-emetic medication (or using a different administration route such as suppository). Anti-emetics are drugs that reduce the feelings of nausea and incidence of vomiting. Anti-emetic migraine treatments are available through pharmacies or on a prescription.

Natural migraine treatments are often used complimentary to usual migraine treatments. Using lavender and peppermint oil as a temple massage or on an oil burner is thought to reduce painful migraine symptoms, and drinking ginger tea to calm nausea and vomiting. As always with any medication, check that your choice of complimentary medicines are not contraindicated.

If migraines are significantly affecting quality of life and usual treatment is not successful, there are other types of medication that have been identified as useful in migraine treatment. These are identified as anti-epileptics (works on the nerves), anti-depressants (works on brain chemicals called neurotransmitters), beta blockers (blood pressure tablets) and muscle relaxants.

Muscle relaxant injections as a ‘muscle relaxant’ migraine treatment in Australia is relatively new. Traditional muscle relaxants such as benzodiazepines are addictive, have diminishing returns (you need more and more of the drug to get the same effect) and are an acute treatment, rather than preventative.  Botox migraine treatment consists of injections into 7 muscle groups of the neck and head, two of the areas associated with headaches. A specially trained neurologist gives patients injections into their head and neck every 12 weeks. Up to 155 units are used across the corrugators (near the inner eyes), procerus (between the eyebrows), frontalis (forehead), temporalis (temples), occipital (back of the head), cervical paraspinal (top of neck) and trapezius (base of the neck).

_dosage.onabotulinumtoxinA Fig 2

These are given with a fine needle in 31 spots, including the forehead, temples and back of the head, says Melbourne neurologist Dr Richard Stark (who just happens to be the father of my Melbourne neurologist!).


Int Fibro

Botox is Toxic for Pain

Scientists from Cambridge’s Department of Medical Science believe that they have modified Botox in such a way that it may now be an alternative treatment for pain.

The Non-surgical wrinkles treatment could be used to treat issues such as epilepsy and chronic pain. A single injection of the new bio-therapeutic molecule could prevent pain for months, according to the recent health study.

Professor Bazbek Davletov and his team were able to create a new molecule that could reduce hypersensitivity to inflammatory pain.  A combination of Clostridium botulinum (Botox) and Clostridium tetani, the molecule now possesses new biomedical properties without any toxic effects.

“Currently painkillers relieve lingering pain only temporarily and often have unwanted side effects. A single injection of the new molecule at the site of pain could potentially relieve pain for many months in humans and this now needs to be tested,” said Professor Davletov.

If testing is successful, the molecule could be manufactured into a new pain treatment.

It’s My Life!

Woah! Really busy for me out in the real world – there is actually a life for me beyond Fibromyalgia Awareness…

As you know, last night was my fabulous shiatsu massage; but, before that, I had a very-overdue botox injection (or lots of little ones) across my forehead: Botulinum toxin, commonly referred to as Botox®, is well-known for its cosmetic use to eliminate glabellar lines, the frown wrinkles between the eyes (which is fabulous) frown_lines_beforeyet it can also relieve migraine-type headache, muscle tension headache, or chronic daily headache. Results can be dramatic. Some patients (about a third) who have suffered from daily headaches for years report being free of headaches for two to five months; so I’m hoping (at least) some of my head pain will disappear.

After that, it was an appointment with my lap-band doctor – basically unnecessary because, during this whole month, despite hardly eating because of teeth pain, I only lost 400 grams (that’s a poo!). Hopefully, after this whole ‘Lyrica-weaning’ process, I will start to lose some (much un-needed) weight!

Driving Miss DaisyToday I was lucky enough to receive my very belated birthday present – a matinee performance of Driving Miss Daisy with Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones. I had seen the movie (a very, very long time ago – after googling it, the movie was around 1989 so I was 18) but I really didn’t remember the entire Jewish storyline, only the black racism. It was pretty damn cool and I had a (very uncomfortable) seat in the second row (that’s from the front!)

And now, tomorrow, it is Z’s 3rd birthday party (so I’ll see my father for the 1st time since The Letter) – he decided to have a gardening party with minimal decoration (BUM!) but I did what I was allowed to:

hungry caterpiller (window)hungry caterpiller


His real birthday is on Tuesday so I prepared a treasure chest of presents…

chest closed chest opened

and decorated the spare-room at my house for when he sleeps over.

view from door full view

We’re going to the Zoo!

Related Posts:

Bali Fibro Haven

Just one more sleep and I have to go home…not happy, Jan! I am seriously thinking about moving here – there has been a lot less pain and therefore a lot less pain killers; the warmth is wonderful; the lifestyle is relaxed, and it is really cheap to live here. I found a gorgeous 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom villa with pool and maid’s quarters (and fully furnished) for about half the price of my 2 bedroom (no pool) unit at home – and I’d need a big house because I am sure that my entire family would suddenly find the time to visit me (OFTEN!)


Maybe I could open a Fibromyalgia Retreat and organise yoga/meditation sessions, Botox injections for TMJ and loads of massages. Anyone want to come?

I figure (with Mommy’s encouragement) that I had better lease here first for a longer period to see if I could really handle being away from family and friends – so when I get home, I’ll be doing some heavy-duty research!

Our last days spent in paradise are being taken up with more massages, a manicure and pedicure for Mommy (I can’t handle them – they hurt!), my eyelash extensions (finally!) and some last-minute sun worship – oh, and a couple of cocktails!

P.S. I won’t miss the #%!!ing rooster!