Migraine Sufferers May Get Botox On NHS

Rhiannon Mills, Sky reporter

Botox could soon be available on the NHS to treat those who suffer from chronic migraines.

The injections, most commonly known as an anti-wrinkle treatment, have been shown to relieve pain for those who suffer from the severe and debilitating headaches.

In a draft report, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has recommended the jabs should be used as a treatment for the condition. 

It comes after they looked at whether the benefits for chronic migraine would prove to be value for money for the NHS.

The report is still open for consultation but if there are no objections the treatment could be available on the NHS within months.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at Nice, said: "Chronic migraines are extremely debilitating and can significantly affect a person's quality of life.

"We are pleased that the committee has been able to recommend Botox as a preventative therapy for those adults whose headaches have not improved despite trying at least three other medications and whose headaches are not caused by medication overuse."

It is thought that Botox may help with migraines by blocking pain signals as well as relaxing muscles.

Dr Giles Elrington, of the National Migraine centre , told Sky News the success rate proves the injections can have far wider benefits than just erasing wrinkles.

He said: "Botox is mostly used to cause partial muscle paralysis, and that's why it works for wrinkles, spasms and stiffness, it'a not just a treatment for ladies who lunch.

"The funny thing about Botox and migraine is that it's working on sensory pathways and what it does is not cause muscle paralysis but reduce the sensory traffic coming from the head through to consciousness."

The Migraine Trust believes that more than one million adults suffer from chronic migraines, which is defines as having headaches for at least 15 days a month over three months, at least eight of which are migraines.

Chief Executive Wendy Thomas said these injections would give real hope to those who have not had success with more traditional medication.

"For those people who have failed to respond to the normal preventive medicines then Botox really does offer some hope, and works extremely well for some people, for some it's quite life changing," she said.

Nice has been considering whether the injection should be offered across the NHS in England and Wales. It estimated the cost to the NHS would be £349.40 for every 12-week cycle of treatment.