How This Helps

Migraine is a painful neurological condition that can cause several symptoms in people who frequently suffer from these headaches. The condition of migraine is typically characterized by an intense and debilitating headache, along with symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, tingling or numbness, sensitivity to sound and light, difficulty speaking, etc.[1] Migraine headaches tend to have a genetic connection and have been found to run in families. It can affect people of all ages.[2]

People who suffer from migraines are ready to try anything to get relief from the debilitating headache. There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications available for alleviating some of the migraine symptoms. Nevertheless, many patients do not respond well to these types of pain-relieving drugs. In such cases, doctors may recommend taking preventive medications that help reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. It is believed that nearly one-third of all patients with chronic migraines are on preventive medications.[3]

In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Onabotulinum toxin A (botox) for the preventive treatment of chronic migraines. If you have chronic migraine, and no other treatment seems to be working to relieve your symptoms, then you should discuss the possibility of using botox for migraines.[4]

Botox injections for migraines

Botox for Migraines

Made from toxic bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum, Botox is an injectable drug that is commonly used for cosmetic procedures today. It is a popular wrinkle reducer, and over the years, it has been recognized for its potential in treating many medical conditions such as chronic migraines.[5]

If your doctor approves the use of Botox for migraines, then you will be getting the Botox injections once every three months. Based on how well your symptoms respond to these Botox injections, your doctor will then determine how long you need to take the Botox injections. 

Each Botox session for treating migraine lasts for at least 10 to 15 minutes, and during these sessions, you will be injected with several doses of Botox. There are several Botox for migraines injection sites that are located along your forehead, your temples, the bridge of the nose, back of your head, your upper back, and your neck.[6]

However, Botox is only approved for the treatment of chronic migraines. Chronic migraines mean you have migraine headaches for 15 days or more in a month. Studies have found that the frequent your headaches are, the better will be the results of Botox. Botox for migraines is not recommended for those who suffer from fewer than 15 migraine days in a month.[7]

See: Ayurveda Treatment for Migraine

Botox for migraines benefits

What are the Benefits of Botox for Migraines?

Using Botox for migraines can significantly decrease the common symptoms of migraine such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, sensitivity to smells, lights, and sounds. Once you have received the Botox injections, it might take up to 10 to 15 days to experience relief from your symptoms.[8]

Many people find that they do not experience any relief from their migraine symptoms following the first couple of injections. It may take multiple sets of injections to witness any positive results.

See: Migraine diet

How does Botox for Migraines work?

Your doctor will begin by injecting Botox around the pain fibers that are known to be involved in causing migraine headaches. Botox will enter through these nerve endings at the place it is injected. This blocks the release of the chemicals that are responsible for pain transmission, thus stopping the activation of the pain networks present in your brain. 

Over a period of time, Botox can successfully prevent your migraine headaches even before they start, but it will take a couple of sets of injections for the treatment to begin working. It has been observed that the therapy begins having the maximum effects around the third dose of Botox. As the number of treatment cycles goes up, the benefits experienced are more significant. Botox injections can help reduce the number of headache days by nearly 50 percent.[9]

See: Functional Medicine for migraine healing

Does it hurt to get Botox for Migraines?

Doctors use a very small and sharp needle to administer the Botox injections. The injection process is relatively painless, and you are likely to only feel a tiny prick at the Botox for migraines injection sites. When Botox is mixed with saline for administering, then you may feel a brief burning sensation at the injection site. However, most Botox procedures for treating migraine headaches are well tolerated by patients, and last for only 10 to 15 minutes.  You can go back to your day to day routine immediately after the procedure has taken place.

See: Migraine Treatment With Naturopathic Medicine

Botox for migraines side effects

What are the side effects of using Botox for Migraines?

Botox is generally considered to be safe for use in the treatment of migraine headaches. The most commonly experienced side effects are neck pain and headaches. Using an ice pack usually helps in getting over a sore neck. You may also experience some amount of stiffness in your neck, along with a condition known as 'wobbly neck.' [10]

When Botox is injected into the upper shoulders and neck muscles, it might lead to a temporary weakness in these muscles. The neck pain and stiffness is believed to be a result of these weakened muscles working to keep your head upright. Any kind of Botox-related pain, stiffness, and weakness tends to resolve itself within a few days to a week. Taking any type of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help with neck pain. You should not consider any muscle relaxants at this time, as this may worsen muscle weakness.

 

While it is infrequent, some people may have an allergic reaction to Botox.[11] Some of the symptoms of having a Botox allergy include:

• Shortness of breath

• Hives

• Swelling in the face, tongue, lips, or throat

• Swelling in the lower legs

• Difficulty breathing

• Itching

• Wheezing

• Feeling like you may faint

If you experience any such symptoms, then it is necessary to inform your doctor and discontinue further treatment with Botox.

See: Yoga asanas for migraine pain relief

Botox for migraine cost

Generally speaking, the FDA-recommended dose of 155 units costs between $300 to $600 for every therapy. As Botox is FDA approved for chronic migraine, it is covered by most plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. Allergan offers a "Botox Savings Card," that offers patients lower fees. Please note that before your insurance carrier will approve Botox as a treatment for the chronic migraine, you typically have to have tried and failed to respond to two other preventative treatments. These may include anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, or blood pressure medications, which are typically utilized to prevent migraines.[12]


See: Homeopathic Remedies For Migraines

What is treatment like?

When you get your first Botox treatment, anticipate the appointment to take about 20 minutes. The doctor uses a tiny needle that feels like a pinprick. The doctor injects small amounts of Botox into the shallow muscles on the surface of the skin. Each therapy generally involves 31 injections in seven important areas of the neck and head.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, some common side effects from the Botox shots are a sore neck, but using an ice pack can help decrease the discomfort. It may take up to six months to realize the most benefit from Botox. Meanwhile, you may continue your routine remedies with no danger of a drug interaction.

See: Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches

Science & research

Botox is a medication made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It's the exact same toxin that causes a life-threatening sort of food poisoning known as botulism. Doctors use it in small doses to treat health issues, including. Temporary smoothing of facial wrinkles and enhancing your physical appearance. Botox is a medication that weakens or paralyzes muscle. In small doses, it can reduce skin wrinkles and help treat some muscle ailments

Although millions of individuals receive Botox injections to decrease the lines connected with natural aging, multiple studies suggest these seemingly benign wrinkle-reducing shots can impact mental & brain health. As an example, some research shows Botox manages to make its way to the central nervous system. Furthermore, studies on rat discovered that when the active ingredient in Botox was injected into one side of the mind it might be located on the other side of the brain. Even Botox injected into the rats' whiskers showed up in the mind. Although these studies used more powerful, purified forms of the toxin rather than the diluted form found in the cosmetic injections, its ability to travel into the nervous system raise concerns nonetheless.

Botox affects brain signals from palms: A Swiss research study on people also discovered Botox affects the regions of the brain linked to the hands. This is because the face and the palms occupy areas of the mind that neighbor one another. The researchers found that the paralyzing effect of Botox on the face inhibited sensory input into the mind in this region, thus altering brain mapping of their palms. Researchers speculated that loss of motion in the face due to Botox injections could influence touch feeling in both hands. They called for additional studies to find out if Botox also affects other areas of the body.

See: Migraine Supplements

Summary

If you experience chronic migraines, then Botox could be one of the treatment options that may help alleviate your symptoms. However, most doctors do not immediately begin treating migraines with Botox. They will first try other options such as prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers and preventive medications to manage your symptoms. 

They will recommend trying Botox injections only if you do not respond well to these migraine medications and other treatments. Botox for migraines is known to be effective in controlling your symptoms and even helps prevent migraines even before they start. The procedure is quick and easy and can help you manage this debilitating condition.

See: Home Remedies For Migraine

References

1. Pietrobon, D., and Striessnig, J., 2003. Neurobiology of migraine. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4(5), pp.386-398.

2. Pietrobon, D., and Moskowitz, M.A., 2013. Pathophysiology of migraine. Annual review of physiology, 75, pp.365-391.

3. Bigal, M.E., Serrano, D., Reed, M., and Lipton, R.B., 2008. Chronic migraine in the population: burden, diagnosis, and satisfaction with treatment. Neurology, 71(8), pp.559-566.

4. Sivagnanam, G., 2011. FDA approves Botox to treat chronic migraines. Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, 2(3), p.216.

5. Lang, A., 2004. History and Uses of BOTOX®(Botulinum Toxin Type A). Professional Case Management, 9(2), pp.109-112.

6. Saper, J.R., Mathew, N.T., Loder, E.W., DeGryse, R. and VanDenburgh, A.M., 2007. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled comparison of botulinum toxin type an injection sites and doses in the prevention of episodic migraine. Pain Medicine, 8(6), pp.478-485.

7. Escher, C.M., Paracka, L., Dressler, D., and Kollewe, K., 2017. Botulinum toxin in the management of chronic migraine: clinical evidence and experience. Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders, 10(2), pp.127-135.

8. Ramachandran, R., and Yaksh, T.L., 2014. Therapeutic use of botulinum toxin in migraine: mechanisms of action. British journal of pharmacology, 171(18), pp.4177-4192.

9. Troost, B.T., 2004. Botulinum toxin type A (BOTOX®) in the treatment of migraine and other headaches. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 4(1), pp.27-31.

10. Aronson, N.E., 2004. Botulinum Toxins. In Physician's Guide to Terrorist Attack (pp. 161-173). Humana Press, Totowa, NJ.

11. Li, M., Goldberger, B.A., and Hopkins, C., 2005. A fatal case of BOTOX®-related anaphylaxis?. Journal of Forensic Science, 50(1), pp.JFS2004196-4.

12. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/2nd-annual-migraine-moment-short-film-contest-winner/

13. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150416094051.htm

See: Ginger for migraine pain relief

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