Severe headaches for days, nausea and vomiting migraine patients go through hell. In fact it has been ranked as the 19th most disabling disease by WHO.
But anti-ageing drug botox can bring some relief to chronic patients, say experts, though there is not much awareness about this cure yet.
Jamuna Pai, a Mumbai-based cosmetologist, told IANS that botox "blocks the pain pathways and beautifully treats migraine. We people who have not gone through migraine don't know what it can do".What are the symptoms? The typical migraine headache affects only one half of the head. It is pulsating in nature and lasts from two to 72 hours.
Pai said: "Those who get migraine attacks vomit, can't get out of bed for three-four days, going to work is out of question. People tie a cloth tightly around their heads to control the pain.
"A few prick jabs are like god's gift for the chronic migraine patients. For an experienced person, it takes about two minutes to inject it and in 10-14 days you will see the result. The effect lasts six months and the person will not get pain attacks."
According to a study, WHO has ranked migraine as the 19th most disabling disease. Women are believed to be three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines. It is a chronic neurological disorder characterised by moderate to severe headaches, and nausea.
However, Pai, who has been a pioneer in bringing botox to India, says there is not enough awareness about the procedure, which has got the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"The awareness is not much, though it has got approval. Less than five percent come for treatment of migraine," she said, adding migraine patients in the age group of 20 years to 55 years come for the treatment.
Botox has been used as a treatment for other physical disorders for a long time, says Raghu Kumar, managing director, Allergan India. He says for migraine patients, it got approval less than a year ago.
"Botox has been used for all the therapeutic indications like cerebral palsy movement disorder, spasticity and post-stroke spasticity since 1996," said Kumar.
"Approval for chronic migraine has been received less than a year back, so it is a completely new concept. The botox is injected in as many as 32 spots in the head but it is fairly painless, less complicated. Some 100-150 patients would definitely have used it in the last six months," he added.
The cost of the botox jab differs with the number of units used, says Pai.
"Cost differs according to the dosage. A bottle contains 100 units and when I give the treatment myself, I charge Rs.400 per unit plus taxes. When my team of doctors does it, they charge Rs.300 per unit plus taxes. I have also heard that some doctors charge Rs.200-250 per unit in other places," she said.
"So if I use 80 units of botox for migraine, it would be Rs 32,000, but I think it is worth it. It's better if you pay this kind of money and over the period of time you are paying less as the units required get less. The frequency of pain attacks also decreases as the pathways get used to not sending the pain," she added.
Since the concept is new, Kumar says, they have started training doctors about dosage.
"We have trained more than 100 doctors by now on how to inject botox. We are in a phase of building confidence when it can be used as a therapeutic indication on regular basis," he added.