Anyone who suffers from migraine headaches knows that they are painful, intrusive, and can seriously affect the quality of life. Symptoms of migraine headaches can include nausea, intense pulsing or throbbing (usually on just one side of the head), pain around the eye, eyelid or temple, and sensitivity to light and sound. In 2010, Botox was given FDA approval to treat chronic migraines, offering those who suffer from the headaches a potential path to long-term relief. (Note: Botox is only approved to treat chronic migraines, which means headaches that occur 15 days or more every month.)
What Type of Headache Responds Best to Botox?
Chronic migraines — which means migraine headaches that occur 15 or more days a month — respond best to Botox. Other preventative measures that can help mitigate the causes of migraines, such as over-the-counter pain medication, stress-reduction techniques like exercise, medication and therapy, reducing sensory stimulation or eliminating the intake of alcohol and caffeine, may be recommended for migraine headaches that are not chronic in nature.
So What Is Botox Exactly?
Botox is a type of injection commonly used in cosmetic surgery to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. It is made from the toxin onobotulinumtoxinA, which causes muscle weakness and temporarily prevents muscle movement. This toxin blocks the signals sent from the nerves to the injected muscles, making them unable to contract, resulting in softened wrinkles.
How Is Botox Used to Treat Migraine?
Botox has been proven extremely effective in drastically reducing the number of days per month migraine sufferers find themselves afflicted by headaches. A botox treatment blocks the chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry pain signals from the brain before they are able to reach the nerve endings around your head and neck. In this way, Botox effectively acts as a roadblock for the pain transmission that causes migraine headaches, reducing their severity or eliminating them completely.
How Effectively Can Botox Treat for Migraine Headaches?
Individuals who are treated for migraine headaches with Botox may still experience some migraines. Still, the treatment has been shown to significantly reduce the number of headache days experienced by migraine sufferers each month. Those who are treated for migraines using Botox may not experience results for 10 to 14 days after their treatment, and will find their treatment most effective if they are injected with Botox every three months.
Where Are Botox Injection Sites for Migraine
If you are being treated for migraine headaches with Botox, injection sites can include the upper bridge above your nose, your forehead, your temples, the back of your head, your neck, or your upper back. Your doctor and cosmetic surgeon will be able to determine which sites are ideal for injection based on the types and severity of headaches you experience. Treatments ordinarily include 31 injections of 5 units per injection, but your treatment may be different based on your individual needs.
Side Effects of Botox
Like all medical treatments, Botox has some potential side effects. Most commonly, these include pain or stiffness at the injection site, and muscle weakness, especially at the neck or upper shoulders. These side effects are temporary. More severe, but very rare, side effects can include vision changes, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids or sharply raised eyebrows. If you experience any of these side effects, it is possible that the botulinum toxin has spread past the injection site. Contact your doctor.
What to Expect from Getting Botox
Your Botox treatment will be comfortable and relatively painless. During your treatment, your doctor or surgeon will administer several injections at the agreed-upon injection site, and each treatment for migraines will last about 10 to 15 minutes. You will be able to continue your day as normal.
How Often to Get Botox for Migraine Prevention
It is recommended that migraine sufferers have Botox administered every three months to ensure the treatment is as effective as possible for treating and preventing migraine headaches.