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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > New start for botox headache patient

New start for botox headache patient

Posted on Monday 24th August 2015

Steven Howes with Mr Yogendra Jagatsinh, consultant in rehabilitation medicine

A chronic headache sufferer whose life was transformed by a revolutionary new treatment at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle is preparing to start a new career as a teacher.

Steven Howes’ life had been blighted by debilitating headaches and migraines following two life-threatening head injuries – the first when he was just 19 years old. In 1998 he was the victim of an unprovoked axe attack while walking home from the pub on Christmas Eve, which left him in hospital for several weeks, needing two major operations and confined to a wheelchair for six months.

Then in a cruel twist of fate, Steven went on to suffer a further serious injury in 2005 when a metal winch system fell and landed on his head.

For years he had a constant headache, which often left him confined to bed, sometimes for a week at a time. He tried endless kinds of medication but nothing helped with the pain.

Then in July 2012, Mr Yogendra Jagatsinh, consultant in rehabilitation medicine for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, suggested Steven try Botox injections, which had recently been approved for use on the NHS to treat headaches and migraines.

Steven saw immediate results, with his headaches all but disappearing after his first treatment. He continues to have between 30 and 40 Botox injections above his eyes, around the side of his head, in his neck and shoulders, every three months.

Now three years on, Steven has qualified as a primary school teacher and begins his first permanent teaching job in September. He said: “When I think back to three years ago, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing anything like this – even going to university, let alone being able to do a full-time job. When I used to get a headache, it was like someone had a clamp on my skull, crushing me. I wasn’t able to function.

“My life has been transformed. I do get bad days now and again but they are few and far between, and nothing like the headaches I used to get.”

Mr Jagatsinh says the majority of his chronic headache and migraine patients who have had Botox treatment have had similarly impressive results. He said: “I have around 25 to 30 patients being treated in this way at the moment, plus around eight who have been cured of their headaches and discharged. Only one or two patients who have tried it found it had no effect at all.”

Now Steven is preparing to start work as a Year 2 teacher at a school in Maryport, after completing placements at schools in Carlisle and Morland in the Eden Valley, during his teacher training. He said: “I’m just so excited and sometimes still can’t believe this is happening. I never thought it would be possible for me to hold down a job like this, but the Botox treatment has been so effective, I know I can do it now.”

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. Chronic headache is a headache that lasts at least four hours and occurs more than 15 days per month.

Patients who think they may be eligible for this treatment should speak to their GP in the first instance.