How does Botox help with migraines?
Though Botox may be a household name due to its ability to diminish the appearance of wrinkles when used cosmetically, it is also a powerful treatment for a number of medical issues. Botox, which is also known as OnaboutlinumtoxinA, is made of the neurotoxin botulinum toxin type A, and has been used for decades in many medical treatments including for the treatment of cervical dystonia, overactive bladder, crossed eyes, and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). Botulinum toxin type A causes temporary muscle paralysis by blocking the signals between the nerves of the injected muscle and the brain. But how exactly does Botox work to help treat migraines? When it comes to treating chronic migraines, doctors believe that the neurotransmitters blocked by the injections are those that signal pain, allowing patients to live pain-free after receiving Botox injections.
What you should know before treatment.
Botox injections are not suitable for all migraines and require the patient to have been diagnosed with migraine headaches. Only patients who suffer from headaches most days of the month—meaning that the patient exhibits symptoms of headaches 15 or more days of the month, with at least 8 of those days involving migraines—are eligible candidates for Botox injections.
If you are a suitable candidate, Botox injections can be a great option to help prevent headaches and migraines and reduce the pain of future headaches.
What to expect from treatment.
To receive Botox injections for migraines, patients must go to a provider who is experienced in the techniques required for treating migraine headaches with Botox specifically. Injections are not very painful, as a very small needle is used to perform the injections. Patients will simply feel a tiny pinprick, and treatment is typically very quick. On average, 1 treatment session will only take around 15 minutes. Treatment sessions should take place approximately 12 weeks part, and new patients should receive a minimum of 2 treatments to determine whether they experience any benefits. The full benefits of treatment will likely not be experienced with less than 2 sessions.
There are over 30 injection sites and Botox is applied in seven muscle areas on the head and neck areas. Some of these include: Corrugator, Trapezius, Temporalis, Occipitalis, Procerus, Cervical paraspinal muscle group, Frontalis and Temporalis.
After treatment, patients will be able to return to their regularly scheduled daily activities, though there may be some slight pain or stiffness experienced at the injection site. If this is the case, the application of an ice pack will help relieve these issues, and patients can continue to take their normal migraine medication after treatment. Every patient reacts differently, and it is likely that some patients will take longer than others to feel the benefits taking effect. Patients are recommended be vigilant in keeping track of migraine frequency in order to help determine the effectiveness of treatment, as it may not be the best treatment for everyone.
What are some of the possible side effects when using Botox to treat migraines.
While migraines treatment with Botox is proven safe, as occurs with many medical procedures there are some mild temporary side effects. These effects will typically resolve themselves within a few days of appearing and may take up to a week to appear after injections.
These effects include:
- Stiffness in the muscles of the neck or upper back;
- Bruising, swelling, or pain at the site of the injection;
- Mild headaches or nausea;
- Dry eyes;
- Flu-like symptoms.
Is it right for you?
While Botox injections for chronic migraines are safe, effective, and long-lasting, not all patients will experience the same results. Patients who have headaches on 14 or fewer days within a 1-month period of time, or patients who experience types of headaches other than migraines—such as tension headaches, episodic migraines, or cluster headaches—are not suitable for treatment. It is also not suitable for patients with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to botulinum toxin, or individuals who have a skin infection in the injection sites. However, patients who receive treatment typically respond well, with patients experiencing 8 to 9 fewer days on average with headaches every month. Patients may also experience more benefits of treatment with continued cycles of injections.
The pain felt by Migraine sufferers can be agonizing and keep you from living your life to the fullest. Since every Migraine headache disorder patient has different needs, it is important for Dr Virk to evaluate you to determine which unique treatment plan can maximize results for you. If you think you may have Migraine headaches or if you just have questions, please feel free to contact us to make an appointment!
Note: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.