Does Botox Help Treat Chronic Migraine?
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Does Botox Help Treat Chronic Migraine?

The search for migraine relief

Highlights

  1. Botox gained notoriety as a wrinkle reducer in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  2. In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a preventive treatment option for chronic migraines. 
  3. If other preventive treatments haven’t eased your chronic migraine symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor about Botox.

In the quest to find relief from chronic migraine headaches, you might try just about anything. After all, migraines can be painful and debilitating, and they can greatly affect your quality of life.

If you experience migraine symptoms on 15 or more days each month, you have chronic migraines. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may help ease some of your symptoms, but some patients don’t respond well to pain relievers. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe preventive medicines, which are designed to reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms. According to research published in the journal Neurology, only about one-third of patients with chronic migraines take preventive medicines.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of onabotulinumtoxinA as a treatment for chronic migraines. It’s more commonly known as Botox-A or Botox. If other treatment options haven’t worked for you, it may be time to try Botox.

What is Botox?

Botox is an injectable drug made from a toxic bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. When you eat the toxin produced by this bacterium, it causes a life-threatening form of food poisoning, known as botulism. But when you inject it into your body, it causes different symptoms. It blocks certain chemical signals from your nerves, causing temporary paralysis of your muscles.

Botox gained popularity and notoriety as a wrinkle reducer in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it wasn’t long before researchers recognized the potential of Botox for treating medical conditions, too. Today it’s used to treat problems such as repetitive neck spasms, eye twitching, and overactive bladder. In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a preventive treatment option for chronic migraines. 

How is Botox used to treat migraines?

If you undergo Botox treatments for migraines, your doctor will typically administer them once every three months. Depending on your response to Botox, your doctor will recommend a length of time for your treatment plan. Each session will last between 10 and 15 minutes. During the sessions, your doctor will inject multiple doses of the medicine into specific points along the bridge of your nose, your temples, your forehead, the back of your head, your neck, and your upper back.

What are the potential benefits of Botox?

Botox treatments can help reduce symptoms of migraine headaches, including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to lights, sounds, and smells. After you receive Botox injections, it may take as long as 10 to 14 days for you to experience relief. In some cases, you may not experience any relief from your symptoms following your first set of injections. Additional treatments may prove more effective. 

What are the potential risks of Botox?

Complications and side effects of Botox treatments are rare. The injections themselves are almost painless. You may experience a very small sting with each injection.

The most common side effects of Botox injections are neck pain and stiffness at the injection site. You may develop a headache afterward. You may also experience temporary muscle weakness in your neck and upper shoulders. This can make it hard to keep your head upright. When these side effects occur, they usually resolve on their own within a few days. 

In rare cases, Botox toxin can spread to areas beyond the injection site. If this happens, you may experience muscle weakness, vision changes, difficulty swallowing, and drooping eyelids. To reduce your risk of serious side effects and complications, always make sure Botox is prescribed and administered by a trained healthcare professional who has experience in using Botox.

Is Botox right for you?

Most insurance providers now cover the expense of Botox injections when they’re used to treat chronic migraines. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance won’t cover the cost of the procedure, it may cost you several thousand dollars. Before you begin receiving injections, talk to your insurance company. In some cases, they may require you to undergo other procedures or tests before they will cover the costs of Botox treatments.

The takeaway

If you have chronic migraines, Botox is one of many treatment options available to you. Your doctor may not recommend Botox injections until other treatment options have proven unsuccessful. They may suggest trying Botox if you don’t tolerate migraine medications well or don’t experience relief following other treatments.

If other preventive treatments haven’t eased your chronic migraine symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor about Botox. The process is quick and low risk, and it might be your ticket to more symptom-free days.

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