Botulinum toxin type-A (BOTOX) in the treatment of occipital neuralgia: a pilot study.Headache 2008 Nov-Dec; 48(10):1476-81H
To determine the efficacy of occipital nerve blocks using reconstituted botulinum toxin type-A (BTX-A) in providing significant and prolonged pain relief in chronic occipital neuralgia.
Occipital neuralgia is a unilateral or bilateral radiating pain with paresthesias commonly manifesting as paroxysmal episodes and involving the occipital and parietal regions. Common causes of occipital neuralgia include irritation or injury to the divisions of the occipital nerve, myofascial spasm, and focal entrapment of the occipital nerve. Treatment options include medication therapy, occipital nerve blocks, and surgical techniques. BTX-A, which has shown promise in relief of other headache types, may prove a viable therapeutic option for occipital neuralgia pain.
Botulinum toxin type-A (reconstituted in 3 cc of saline) was injected into regions traversed by the greater and lesser occipital nerve in 6 subjects diagnosed with occipital neuralgia. Subjects were instructed to report their daily pain level (on a visual analog pain scale), their ability to perform daily activities (on several quality of life instruments) and their daily pain medication usage (based on a self-reported log), 2 weeks prior to the injection therapy and 12 weeks following injection therapy. Data were analyzed for significant variation from baseline values.
The dull/aching and pin/needles types of pain reported by the subjects did not show a statistically significant improvement during the trial period. The sharp/shooting type of pain, however, showed improvement during most of the trial period except weeks 3-4 and 5-6. The quality of life measures exhibited some improvement. The headache-specific quality of life measure showed significant improvement by 6 weeks which continued through week 12. The general health- and depression-related measures showed no statistical improvement. No significant reduction in pain medication usage was demonstrated.
Our results indicate that BTX-A improved the sharp/shooting type of pain most commonly known to be associated with occipital neuralgia. Additionally, the quality of life measures assessing burden and long-term impact of the headaches, further corroborated improvement seen in daily head pain.