A lot of illnesses having to do with the brain are still quite misunderstood, and migraine headaches are no exception. Cluster headaches are one of the most painful varieties of migraine. While the cause is still uncertain, they are characterized by severe, stabbing pain on one side of the head, including around one eye and in the temple.
Cluster headaches are said to be one of the most torturous medical conditions, in part because there are very few effective options for relief — even surgical treatment methods rarely help. In fact, the agony can be so extreme, this syndrome is also known as "suicide headache," because many sufferers end up taking their own lives.
Thanks to a Norwegian study, the search for an effective treatment may finally be over. Seven doctors studied the behavior of Botox on 10 cluster sufferers over the course of 24 weeks. Patients were injected once toward the sphenopalatine ganglion (a collection of nerve cells often associated with migraines), then kept a headache diary for five and a half months.
The number of headaches suffered was significantly reduced, with five out of 10 patients experiencing at least a 50 percent reduction in attack frequency. Botox works by blocking nerve signals, preventing them from contracting, and it is possible that in this scenario, it stopped pressure from building in the sphenopalatine ganglion. The results of this study may not seem like much to someone who's never experienced cluster headaches, but we see it as a significant improvement — and a promising breakthrough.
If you or a loved one are considering suicide, please seek help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.