AGH doctors use Botox injections to provide migraine relief

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PITTSBURGH —

Doctors at Allegheny General Hospital have begun using Botox injections to help those who suffer from severe migraines.

The Food and Drug Administration approved procedure uses a series of 31 injections in a variety of locations in the frontal head region, the temporal head region and the back of the head. Patients say the procedure works, though doctors admit they're not entirely sure why.

"They theory is that there is some sort of nerve feedback mechanism from the AC blockage that is doing something to the nerve signals that then cause migraines," said Allegheny General Hospital neurologist Dr. Lara Kunschner Ronan.  

Patient Stacey Offner, of Moon Township, said she tried many different things to ease her migraine pain.

"I've tried acupuncture, toxin releases where they scrape your back and neck, different laser, people with prayer, mudbaths… you name it, I've tried it," Offner said. "Before the Botox I was a zombie. People at work would know that there were days that the headaches were bad. They would notice it. I would spend all of my lunchtime in a dark room with my head on a desk."

Kunschner Ronan said the treatment seems to be effective in most migraine sufferers.

"We have had patients that have been able to come off of their medications that they were having a lot of side-effects from. Some are having real life changes," Kunschner Ronan said.

Offner said because of the treatments, she is able to live her life the way she wants.

"I was afraid I would never have children because how would I go through physically having the children with headaches? How would I deal with them? How would I come home and want to play with my kids? The Botox opened up that avenue for us and we decided to adopt and give a good home to kids who need it," said Offner.