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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Botox breakthrough for migraine treatment at Carlisle hospital

A new treatment introduced at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle 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 United States 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 had experienced severe headaches ever since the attack, and in a cruel twist of fate, he went on to suffer a further head injury in 2005 when a metal winch system fell 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 that the doctors could not find anything that could help with the pain.

“I had a constant headache – it was just there all the time. 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 that bad.”

But 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, which is something I just wouldn’t have been able to do before.”

Mr Jagatsinh said: “Steven is a real success story – he is a completely changed man. We had tried 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.

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