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Home > News > Botox treatment transforms headache sufferers' lives

Botox treatment transforms headache sufferers' lives

Posted on Monday 28th January 2013

Yogendra Jagatsinh gives Botox treatment to Steven Howes

A new treatment introduced at the Cumberland Infirmary to treat chronic migraine and headache sufferers using Botox has had remarkable results.

Yogendra Jagatsinh, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, began performing the procedure last summer, soon after it was first approved for use on the NHS. He has so far treated six patients, who have all shown a dramatic improvement in symptoms, some after the first session of treatment.

Chronic migraine is when a person has had a headache on 15 or more days every month for at least three months, with migraines on at least eight of these days.

Botox – botulinum toxin type A – was found to have this new use by accident, when chronic migraine sufferers in the USA who had been injected with Botox for cosmetic reasons reported a significant improvement in their headaches.

Mr Jagatsinh has been using Botox injections for some time to treat two other conditions: spasticity with acquired brain injury and dystonia – uncontrollable and sometimes painful muscle spasms caused by incorrect signals from the brain. Having seen how effective it could be, he was keen to start using Botox to help chronic migraine and headache sufferers.

One patient whose life has been completely transformed by the new treatment is Steven Howes, of Fletchertown, near Aspatria. He has been crippled by debilitating headaches since 1998, when he suffered the first of two life-threatening head injuries.

“It was Christmas Eve 1998, when I was 19,” he explained. “I was walking home from the pub with a few friends when I was attacked by a guy with an axe. He just hit me across the head with it, it was completely unprovoked.”

Steven was in hospital for several weeks, needed two major operations and was in a wheelchair for six months after the attack. He experienced severe headaches ever since the attack, but in a cruel twist of fate, went on to suffer a further head injury in 2005 when a metal winch system fell and landed on his head.

“I have had severe headaches for a long time now, taking multiple medication that never really helped,” he said. “There was so much damage up there, the doctors never found anything that could help with the pain. I must have tried everything out there. I had a constant headache – it was just there all the time – and then typically out of seven days, five would be especially bad. Then I might have a whole week where I was in bed the whole time, it was so bad.”

Since his first Botox treatment in July, Steven’s pain has all but disappeared. A full-time dad, his wife Rebecca often had to take time off work to look after their two young children when he was in too much pain, but that hasn’t happened once since he began the new treatment.

Steven has between 30 and 40 Botox injections every 12 weeks, above his eyes, around the side of his head, in his neck and shoulders. “It’s uncomfortable but more than bearable,” he said. “I’m just so pleased to be able to get this treatment on the NHS, it’s amazing. I’ve applied to train to be a primary school teacher from September, which is something I just wouldn’t have been able to do before. This has given me the confidence to go for it.”

Mr Jagatsinh said: “Steven is a real success story – he is a completely changed man. We had tried him with so many different tablets but none of them worked.”

The Botox treatment works by blocking pain signals and also reduces other symptoms of migraine, including tension headache.