Theres good news for women who suffer migrainesand most other types of headacheswhich they do at twice the rate of men. Headaches are one area where the new focus on prevention can be seen in a host of treatment options, including Botox. Considered experimental just a few years ago, Botox injections (in which the botulinum toxin type A is used to paralyze specific muscles in the forehead, brow, temples, and neck) is now offered by many hospital pain clinics. Botox is also extremely effective for certain types of neck pain, such as cervical dystonia.
Another treatment thats crossing over from fringy “alternative” practitioners to mainstream pain clinics is neuromodulation, a.k.a. transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). “Think of TENS as acupuncture without needles that you can wear at home,” says Joseph Shurman, MD, pioneer of a new pain-management model at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, and chairman of pain management.
Extremely effective for neck pain, back pain, and some kinds of headaches, the treatment involves applying electrodes to the skin to stimulate particular nerves. “Neuromodulation works by trying to change the pain message into something else,” Kirschen says.
Acupuncture is also a routine part of treatment in many headache clinics; its used in conjunction with pain medication and other treatments. Women seem to respond particularly well to this therapy, Young says. “There are certain acupuncture points that are better for women than for men,” he adds.