Taking A New Shot at Migraine Pain

Health – October 1999

Los Angeles plastic surgeon William Binder, M.D. didn’t set out to soothe migraines. He was merely smoothing one of aging’s telltale signs- the furrowed brow. But after a year of treating wrinkled foreheads with Botox (prescribed microinjections of botulinum toxin that relax muscles beneath the skin), Binder got reports of a side effect: Botox patients who’d suffered migraines didn’t seem to be getting them anymore. So Binder set out to conduct a bona fide study with 100 adults who typically got migraines a few times a month. After just one Botox treatment, half were migraine-free for four months; another 37 percent reported some improvement in symptoms. “While tense muscles can contribute to headaches, real migraines emerge from deep in the brain,” says Richard Lipton, president-elect of the American Association for the Study of Headache. “How Botox affects them is a bit of a mystery.” More research is needed, he says, before it can become a mainstream migraine treatment.