While Botulinum Toxin Injections, also known as just Botox, are most commonly recognized as a wrinkle-reducing treatment for individuals looking to soften the signs of aging, Botox has also been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a powerful migraine treatment option. If you suffer from chronic migraines and are looking for a way to prevent or even just reduce them, Botox may be the right choice for you. Let’s dive in and take a look at what Botox is and how Botox injections may help with your migraines.
What Are Botox Injections & Who Qualifies For Them?
Only available as a prescription medication, Botox injections are a purified form of Botulinum Toxin A, which is a protein that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. Classified as a neurotoxin, Botox temporarily paralyzes muscle activity by blocking nerve signals, preventing the muscles from contracting as they normally would. Botox has a wide range of uses and can be used to treat conditions such as:
- Chronic migraines.
- Tension headaches.
- Excessive sweating.
- Muscle spasms.
- Bladder dysfunction/Overactive bladder.
To be eligible for Botox injections as a migraine treatment, you must be of 18 years or older and have a history of migraine headaches. This means that you must have 15 or more migraine or tension-type headaches per month that last 4 hours a day or longer. While Botox is not a cure for migraines, it can work as a preventative treatment for reducing the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraines.
How Can Botox Injections Treat Migraines?
It is thought that Botox injections work to relieve migraine pain by targeting, interrupting, and blocking the transmission of pain signals that travel from the nerves in your muscles to your brain. Since Botox is a neurotoxin, it specifically blocks the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is the chemical responsible for pain signal transmission. As a result of this process, your muscles cannot contract, giving you relief from your migraines. Botox is typically injected into the forehead, temples, back of the head, and neck muscles that are thought to contribute to migraines.
When Is It a Good Time to Look Into Botox Injections for Migraines?
If you are suffering from chronic migraines and have not found relief with other medications and lifestyle changes, then Botox injections may be a good option to consider looking at. It is important to note here that there isn’t a single best option for all individuals when looking at treatments, and so your migraine treatment plan may include several combined options, including Botox injections.
What to Expect From a Botox Injection Appointment
Prior to having a Botox injection appointment scheduled, the first thing that will happen is your doctor will take a thorough medical history, and ask you questions about your migraines. A physical examination will be performed, and certain tests may be done to ensure that there aren’t any other potential causes of your headaches. If no underlying causes are found, then Botox may be determined as a good option for you and schedule you in for an appointment.
During your Botox injection appointment, a specialist will begin by marking the injection sites. This can be anywhere around your forehead, temples, back of the head, and neck, and these areas may be referred to as trigger points. You may also be asked where the pain typically originates from when you feel a migraine coming on. Once these spots are marked, the specialist will inject the Botox into these trigger points using a very tiny needle. You may feel a slight sting when the needle enters your skin, but otherwise, the entire process should be quick and painless.
What Not To Do After Receiving a Botox Injection for Migraines
After receiving your Botox injections, it’s important to avoid lying down for at least four hours following treatment. This is to prevent the Botox from migrating to other muscles and causing unwanted side effects. You should also avoid rubbing or massaging the injection sites.
Other than that, you can go about your day as normal and should start to see a reduction in your migraine symptoms within 2 to 3 weeks after your first treatment. Botox injections are usually given once every 12 weeks, with the effects lasting upwards of 16 weeks.
What Are The Risks of Using Botox Injections For Migraines?
While Botox is generally a safe and effective treatment option with very few risks and side effects, individuals who are pregnant, nursing, or with allergies to the proteins in cow’s milk, should avoid Botox. When given by an experienced physician, the risks of Botox injections are minimal. The most common side effects include:
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Dry eyes or watering eyes.
- Drooping on one side of the mouth, one eyebrow, or one eyelid.
These side effects are usually mild and resolve on their own within a few days. If you have any muscle weakness, vision problems, trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, or bladder issues, then seek out medical care right away, as these rare side effects require immediate attention.