Cluster headache can be very disturbing at times and although there are drugs that relieve pain, headache sometimes simply does not pass so easily. So researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology ( NTNU ) performed a pilot study to test a new treatment for this type of headache. NTNU Erling Tronvik senior consultant and researcher, said they also call it “suicide headache” because some people who suffer from this type of headache come to suicide because of the pain. Tronvik said that this is the most severe form of headache and the pain intensity is greater than that experienced by those who suffer from migraine.
The pain of cluster headache is unbearable. Cluster headache occurs usually in men as opposed to migraines which occur predominantly in women. Statistics show that about 5,000 Norwegians suffer from cluster headache; the frequency of crisis varies from one patient to another, some have daily crisis few months a year, others have several crisis every day. Doctors do not know why these crises occur and so far there have been few therapeutic options for these patients. Now Tronvik and a team of researchers at NTNU, found a new method of treatment: Botox.
Botox is very popular and widely used in plastic surgery. What is not known is that this substance has also other uses than cosmetic surgery. Botox can used to treat medical conditions such as urinary incontinence, blepharospasm, torticollis, etc. In the study conducted by researchers from NTNU, Botox is administered through the nose using a gear; in this way the transmission of impulses through the nerves is blocked. If the pilot study will show that the treatment is effective, than researchers will perform a new larger study which will include 40 patients with cluster headache and 80 patients with migraine.
To locate the bundle of nerves to be blocked, an MRI of the patient’s head is performed. Then, using this MRI and a navigation tool, the surgeon will be able to identify the bundle nerves. It should be noted that the treatment has some risks. If Botox reaches a region close to the bundle nerves, than visual disturbances may occur such as transient double vision. ” But with the use of the MRI and our navigation tools we can hit the nerve bundle without any problem. We hope that this treatment method can help give patients a life without such great pain,” added Tronvik.