Botox relieves SUNCT – a rare headache syndrome

Botox relieved severe pain of SUNCT, a rare and very painful condition, according to a report recently published in journal Cephalalgia. SUNCT stands for short-lasting, neuralgiform headache attacks with conjuctival injection and tearing. The pain of SUNCT is very sudden and brief, lasting 5 to 240 seconds and occurring 20-30 or more times a day. The pain usually occurs around the eye and is accompanied by tearing and redness of the eye. It can be a very debilitating condition because it is difficult to treat. Medications, such as lamotrigine (Lamictal), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and other have been reported to help. The report in Cephalalgia by a Spanish neurologist describes a patient with SUNCT who did not respond to a variety of medication and nerve destruction (thermocoagulation of the trigeminal ganglion), but had an excellent response to Botox injections given every three months. He has received 10 Botox injections over a period of 2 and 1/2 years with sustained relief. He was still having 6-8 attacks per week, but before Botox he was having 20-30 a day. His functioning has also significantly improved. Botox is approved by the FDA only for chronic migraines, although it also seems to work for cluster headaches, which cause pain similar to SUNCT, although it lasts for 1-3 hours and occurs once or twice a day. SUNCT is a very rare condition and it is very unlikely that a blinded clinical trial of Botox for SUNCT will ever be conducted, but this report suggests that Botox may be worth trying in patients with SUNCT.

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