Northampton General Hospital offers pioneering Botox treatment for severe migraines

Paul Davies neurology
Paul Davies neurology

A new treatment offer Botox injections to treat migraines is being offered by Northampton General Hospital.

The treatment was approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence last year and NGH is one of only a few headache centres in the country offering the serivice.

Consultant neurologist Dr Paul Davies said: “It won’t help everyone, but it’s a welcome new treatment we’re very pleased to offer here. It’s not for people who have occasional or even bad attacks of migraine, but for a specific type called chronic migraine. That is defined as having headache on 15 or more days of the month, and eight or more of those days with migraine.”

Before being considered for Botox treatment, patients must also have tried three types of migraine prevention pill each over a couple of months without success. Appropriate potential patients are referred to the NGH clinic by their GP, and the treatment is then offered to those who meet NICE guidelines and are deemed suitable.

Dr Davies said: “It involves one session of 31 injections into the scalp, neck and across the shoulders with a very small needle, and takes about 15 minutes. I sometimes say to people it’s a bit like a very heavy session of acupuncture. After a couple of weeks or so quite a few people find their migraine seems to be settling. We often don’t know the full extent of the benefit for about three months, but unless they have had a side effect which is rare, a second set of injections would then be given.”

If those injections don’t work then the treatment will be discontinued, but for those who are successful – who return to less frequent migraines and experience a 30 per cent reduction in headache days – it will continue to be provided every three to six months, although it should not be considered a treatment for life.