In a new review study, researchers found evidence supports the effectiveness of botulinum toxin injections in reducing the frequency of chronic migraine headaches.
They found botox is superior to an inactive placebo for preventive treatment of migraines.
They say botox is a safe and well-tolerated treatment that should be proposed to patients with migraine.
The research was conducted by a team at University Hospital Rangueil in France.
The team analyzed data from 17 previous studies comparing botulinum toxin with placebo for preventive treatment of migraine headaches.
Botulinum toxin — best known by the brand name Botox — was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of chronic migraines in 2010.
Since then, a growing number of patients have reported successful results with botulinum toxin injections to alleviate chronic migraine headaches.
The 17 studies included nearly 3,650 patients, about 1,550 of whom had chronic migraine: defined as at least 15 headache attacks per month for more than three months, with migraine symptoms on at least eight days per month.
The remaining patients had less-frequent episodic migraine headaches.
In the analysis, the team found botulinum toxin injections strongly reduced the frequency of chronic migraine attacks.
Three months after injection, patients treated with botulinum toxin had an average of 1.6 fewer migraine attacks per month.
The improvement was apparent within two months of botulinum toxin treatment. To sustain the effects of treatment, botulinum toxin injections are typically repeated every three months.
There was also a tendency toward less-frequent attacks with botulinum toxin in patients with episodic migraine. Again, improvement occurred within two months.
Although botulinum toxin had a higher rate of adverse effects compared to placebo, none of these were serious.
The team also showed a big improvement in the quality of life in patients treated with botulinum toxin. This improvement was directly linked to a reduction in depressive symptoms.
Migraine headaches are an increasingly common condition, leading to significant disability and increased use of healthcare resources.
Although botulinum toxin injection for chronic migraine is FDA-approved, there are still conflicting data regarding its effectiveness.
The new report provides a comprehensive analysis of the highest-quality evidence to date, including three randomized trials not included in previous reports.
The results strongly support the effectiveness of botulinum toxin injection as a preventive treatment for chronic migraine, with big reductions in headache frequency at both two and three months.
One author of the study is Prof. Benoit Chaput, MD, PhD from University Hospital Rangueil.
The study is published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
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