All headaches are a nuisance but some are particularly disabling, especially migraines, which involve intense throbbing pain and occur time and time again, affecting the sufferer’s quality of life.
If the medication normally used to alleviate headache symptoms doesn’t work, the situation is even more difficult. Nowadays, on occasions when conventional treatments are not proving effective, some doctors have started applying the botulinum toxin, known as Botox.
The department specialising in headaches at Malaga’s Clínico Universitario hospital is a pioneer in Malaga and in Andalucía in the use of the botulinum toxin on patients with chronic refractory migraine (the type that does not improve through pharmaceutical treatment).
More than 200 people have already benefited from this therapy at the hospital, and the results appear to be good in those who suffer frequent intense headaches.
About 12 per cent of the population of Spain suffers from migraine and in two to three per cent of cases it is chronic, which is defined by having a severe headache on more than 15 days a month for more than three months. Patients in this situation usually take excessive amount of painkillers.
The use of the botulinum toxin for this type of complex migraine is authorised by the Spanish Medication Agency. It is applied to different points of the cranium and neck, and it reduces the frequency and intensive of the pain.
The preventative treatments are personalised and applied in several outpatient sessions and have reduced the frequency and intensity of the pain in approximately 60 per cent of patients. Most of them had made little improvement with conventional treatments.
The head of the department at the Clínico hospital, neurologist José Antonio Heras, said that studies based on scientific evidence show that this therapy helps patients to improve their quality of life.
Migraine is one of the most common reasons people consult their GPs. Although migraine can start at any time, it usually begins between the ages of ten and thirty. Sometimes it disappears after the age of fifty. It is more common in women than men. As more than 50 per cent of patients who suffer from migraine have relatives with the same problem, it is likely to be transmitted genetically. In general, the pain from migraine is more severe than in tension headaches.