Treating Chronic Migraine: One woman’s path to managing the disease
Posted: March 09, 2023 | Word Count: 1,307
Serving in law enforcement is a notoriously stressful profession – but imagine doing it while battling nausea, headaches, and sensitivity to light and sound.
That’s what Christine Gibson, 48, former police officer, dealt with while living with Chronic Migraine, a serious neurological disease. Approximately 3 million people in the U.S. are living with Chronic Migraine, which is defined as 15 or more headache days a month, with headaches lasting four or more hours. If all of those people with Chronic Migraine lived in one place, it would be the third largest city in the U.S.
Chronic Migraine is more than just a headache – it can significantly affect day-to-day activities both personally and professionally.
Christine experienced her first migraine attack while she was pregnant. Though migraine runs in her family, she didn’t realize just how debilitating the disease could be until then. She began to experience more frequent migraine attacks and was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Migraine.
“At that point, I was a mom of three young children and working to build my career as a police officer. The truth is that I couldn’t just go sit in a dark and quiet room until my symptoms subsided,” said Christine. “That was a pivotal moment in which I realized I needed to seek treatment for my disease.”
Christine met with Dr. Andrew Blumenfeld, director of The San Diego Headache Center and director of The Los Angeles Headache Center. Under the care of Dr. Blumenfeld, Christine began treatment with BOTOX® (onabotulinumtoxinA) for Chronic Migraine.
BOTOX® Important Information
BOTOX® (onabotulinumtoxinA) is a prescription medicine that is injected into muscles and used to prevent headaches in adults with chronic migraine who have 15 or more days each month with headache lasting 4 or more hours each day in people 18 years and older.
It is not known whether BOTOX is safe and effective to prevent headaches in patients with migraine who have 14 or fewer headache days each month (episodic migraine).
BOTOX may cause serious side effects that can be life threatening. Get medical help right away if you have any of these problems any time (hours to weeks) after injection of BOTOX:
- Problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing, due to weakening of associated muscles, can be severe and result in loss of life. You are at the highest risk if these problems are preexisting before injection. Swallowing problems may last for several months.
- Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms, including loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness; double vision; blurred vision; drooping eyelids; hoarseness or change or loss of voice; trouble saying words clearly; loss of bladder control; trouble breathing; and trouble swallowing.
Please see additional Important Safety Information below.
“After discussing Christine’s Chronic Migraine, I recommended that we try BOTOX®, which prevents headaches in adults with Chronic Migraine,” said Dr. Blumenfeld. “On average, BOTOX® prevents 8 to 9 headache days and migraine/migraine-probable days a month, compared to 6 to 7 for placebo.”
Christine is just one of thousands of patients who have received BOTOX® since it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Chronic Migraine in 2010. Since then, there have been more than 5 million treatments administered to over 850,000 people living with Chronic Migraine. For more information about this preventive treatment option and to find a specialist, visit BOTOXChronicMigraine.com and see full Product Information, including Boxed Warning and Medication Guide.
BOTOX® has reduced the number of headache days Christine has per month (BOTOX®, on average, prevents 8 to 9 headache days and migraine/migraine-probable days per month, vs 6 to 7 for placebo) and despite moving out of the San Diego area, she continues to travel back to see Dr. Blumenfeld every 12 weeks for her BOTOX® injections. BOTOX® injections are given by your doctor. Two rounds of treatment are needed to see full results at week 24. “For me, I’m so grateful to have found a preventive treatment for my Chronic Migraine with BOTOX®, and I hope that others can learn from my experience and not give up hope of finding treatment.”
BOTOX® Important Safety Information (continued)
There has not been a confirmed serious case of spread of toxin effect away from the injection site when BOTOX has been used at the recommended dose to treat chronic migraine.
BOTOX may cause loss of strength or general muscle weakness, vision problems, or dizziness within hours to weeks of receiving BOTOX. If this happens, do not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities.
Do not receive BOTOX if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in BOTOX (see Medication Guide for ingredients); had an allergic reaction to any other botulinum toxin product such as Myobloc® (rimabotulinumtoxinB), Dysport® (abobotulinumtoxinA), or Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA); have a skin infection at the planned injection site.
The dose of BOTOX is not the same as, or comparable to, another botulinum toxin product.
Serious and/or immediate allergic reactions have been reported, including itching; rash; red, itchy welts; wheezing; asthma symptoms; dizziness; or feeling faint. Get medical help right away if you experience symptoms; further injection of BOTOX should be discontinued.
Tell your doctor about all your muscle or nerve conditions, such as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, myasthenia gravis, or Lambert-Eaton syndrome, as you may be at increased risk of serious side effects, including difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing from typical doses of BOTOX.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you have or have had bleeding problems; have plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; have weakness of forehead muscles, trouble raising your eyebrows, drooping eyelids, and any other abnormal facial change; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX can harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX passes into breast milk).
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Using BOTOX with certain other medicines may cause serious side effects. Do not start any new medicines until you have told your doctor that you have received BOTOX in the past.
Tell your doctor if you received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.
Other side effects of BOTOX include dry mouth; discomfort or pain at the injection site; tiredness; headache; neck pain; eye problems such as double vision, blurred vision, decreased eyesight, drooping eyelids, swelling of your eyelids, and dry eyes; drooping eyebrows; and upper respiratory tract infection.
For more information, refer to the Medication Guide or talk with your doctor.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
If you are having difficulty paying for your medicine, AbbVie may be able to help.
Visit AbbVie.com/myAbbVieAssist to learn more.
Please see BOTOX® full Product Information, including Boxed warning and Medication Guide, or visit https://www.rxabbvie.com/pdf/botox_pi.pdf.
 Katsarava Z, Buse DC, Manack AN, Lipton RB. Defining the differences between episodic migraine and chronic migraine. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2012;16(1):86-92. doi:10.1007/s11916-011-0233-z. Accessed May 16, 2022.
 Adams AM, Serrano D, Buse DC, et al. The impact of chronic migraine: The Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes (CaMEO) Study methods and baseline results. Cephalalgia. 2015;35(7):563-578. doi:10.1177/0333102414552532. Accessed May 16, 2022.