Alicia Swisher: Therapeutic Botox for Migraines
In 2006, 22-year-old Alicia Swisher was working fulltime, going to school and dealing with debilitating migraine headaches at least three to five days of every week. “The severe pain came with nausea and sensitivity to light and sound and it was nearly impossible to function,” Alicia said.
Now, thanks to therapeutic Botox treatments from neurologist John Wald, MD, Alicia has reclaimed her life.
“I was seeing my family doctor and treating my headaches with prescription and over-the-counter medications, but I realized I had to do something drastic or I was going to live my life in bed,” Alicia recalled. “That’s when I decided to consult a neurologist.”
She found Dr. Wald to be “wonderful, very kind and professional. It’s obvious he cares about his patients.” After discussing her medical history and medications at length, Dr. Wald suggested that Alicia try Botox injections. Commonly used as a cosmetic treatment for facial wrinkles, Botox was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for migraine headaches in 2010.
“The idea seemed a little crazy at the time. But by then I was going to the Emergency Room two or three times a week with headache pain,” Alicia said. “I refused to take steroids anymore because of their awful side-effects and the toll they were taking on my body. I was pretty desperate to find a solution.”
Alicia has multiple injections of Botox in her head, neck and shoulders once every three months. “The injections do burn a little bit, but they are making a huge positive difference in my life,” she said. “I am able to function normally, without pain, for most of the three months.”
After several rounds of Botox treatments, Alicia discovered she was pregnant. Because of the severity and frequency of her migraines prior to treatment, she was afraid to stop them. But the health of her baby was the first priority for her and Dr. Wald. He arranged a consultation for her at the University of Michigan, and it was determined to be safe for Alicia to continue treatments through her pregnancy. In July of 2011, she gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl, Abigail.
Alicia said she would “recommend that anyone who is miserable with migraine headaches talk to their doctor about Botox. Don’t let pain keep you from living your life.”