Understanding Botox Treatment for Migraines

Are you one of the 37 million people in the US who suffer from migraines? Millions of people suffer from migraines at least once a month.

Migraines can impact your daily life, causing you to miss work, school, or social engagements. However, Botox for migraines can alleviate some of this suffering.

Read on for more information about how you can use Botox injections to treat your migraines.

What Is Botox?

When you hear the word Botox, you probably think of a procedure that's done cosmetically to reduce wrinkles. What many people don't know is that Botox can be used for a number of other things, including chronic migraines.

Botox is a neurotoxin. Neurotoxins are substances that are capable of causing damage to nerves or nerve tissue.

Botox is made of a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can cause food poisoning if ingested. Botox, though, is safe because it's a much smaller dose and isn't ingested through your stomach.

One of the most common uses of Botox is to smooth wrinkles. Shots of Botox can relax muscles in the face, resulting in a smoothing effect. It can also help people who have tics or spasms because of a nerve disease or disorder.

Doctors discovered that Botox may be able to treat headaches when patients who received injections reported their headaches were better after the treatments. Because of this, doctors started studying Botox for migraines.

Botox isn't usually the first treatment for migraine headaches. It's usually reserved for patients who haven't responded to other treatments or medications.

Botox for Migraines

After doctors began studying the use of Botox for headaches in the 1990s, the FDA approved it as a migraine treatment in 2010.

Because Botox blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission, it can block activation of pain networks in the brain.

The procedure for Botox injections for migraines involves plastic surgeons giving dozens of different injections in different spots on a patient's head and neck. Usually, a total of 31 different injections are given in seven different areas.

The injections are given in areas that have been proven to bring relief to migraine sufferers. The injection sites include your forehead and along your brow line, on the sides of your temples, the back of your head, the base of your head, where your neck and head meet, and your trapezius, or shoulders.

The needles are very small and the pain is minimal.

The Botox enters your nerve endings and prevents migraines before they even start. Doctors believe that it works for migraines because it blocks the neurotransmitters carrying pain signals. Botox stops these chemicals from getting to the nerve endings in your head and neck, where you would feel migraine pain.

Does Botox Work for Migraines?

Researchers studying the impact of Botox for headaches found that shots of it could cut down on the total number of days patients had migraines and other types of headaches.

Patients who got Botox treatment also had more days that were totally free of pain each month and had to take fewer days off of work due to migraines.

Because Botox for migraines is approved by the FDA, many insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid will cover the treatments.

Some insurance companies do require that you've tried other treatments first, though, such as anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, or blood pressure medications used also to treat migraines.

It's important that you find a treatment provider who's trained to inject Botox for migraines, not just for cosmetic procedures.

What is Botox Treatment For Migraines Like?

Your first Botox appointment will likely be very quick. It takes about 20 minutes for the doctor to inject small amounts of Botox into shallow muscles in your skin.

The most common side effect is a sore neck, but that can easily be treated with ice. While you're waiting for the treatment to fully kick in, you can still take other prescription medications for migraines with no risk of drug interactions.

One downside is that the Botox does take some time before it can effectively reduce migraine pain. Patients usually see benefits after the second or third treatments.

One treatment lasts from 10 to 12 weeks and doctors advise that the more treatments you have, the more effective they are.

Is Botox for Migraines Right for Me?

Botox isn't right for all types of headaches. The FDA has approved Botox for migraines only in patients who have chronic migraines. Chronic migraines are those that occur on 15 or more days per month.

The more headaches you have, the more likely Botox will provide relief. It's not recommended for patients who do not have at least 15 headaches a month. It also will not work if you have headaches other than migraines, such as cluster headaches.

Botox has been used primarily on adults who suffer chronic migraines, but some doctors are now using it for children as well. Like adults, kids who receive Botox treatments for chronic migraines can experience fewer days of headaches and more days with no pain at all.

The only way to know if you are a good candidate for Botox is to consult your doctor.

Next Steps

If you have chronic migraines, Botox for migraines might be a good option for you. You don't have to continue to live with chronic pain that can impact your daily life, causing you extreme pain and sometimes nausea and dizziness.

Contact us today to see how we can help you alleviate your migraine pain.