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 OnabotulinumtoxinA, 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. 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 Patients Should Know before Undergoing Botox Treatment for Migraines
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. In one study, subjects who participated experienced an overall decrease in the total amount of days where headaches occurred, decreasing the amount of migraines and other types of headaches. Patients in this study, which only included adults, also reported an increase in days free of pain. Other studies have shown up to 70% of participants reporting that the amount of headaches experienced was half of what they experienced prior to treatment.
What to Expect from the Treatment
To receive Botox injections for migraines, patients must go to a Botox specialist 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 but the short of is 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. In fact, it may take some patients up to 6 months after the first injections to start feeling the full benefits. Doctors recommend that patients 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.
Are Botox Injections Safe when Dealing with Migraines?
Botox has been an approved medical treatment for decades and is safe when injected by an experienced medical practitioner. Many studies have researched the safety and effectiveness of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraines, and a treatment process that involves injection into 31 specific sites has been developed for best results. A single treatment session involves 31 injections spread over the head and neck in 7 specific area, with 10 units divided in 2 site in the corrugators area, 5 units administered in the procerus area, 20 units divided across 4 sites in the frontalis area, 40 units divided across 8 sites in the temporalis area, 30 units divided across 6 sites in the occipitalis area, 20 units spread across 4 sites in the cervical paraspinal muscle group, and 30 units divided across 6 sites in the trapezius area.
Botox for Migraines: Side Effects
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.
Cost of Botox for Migraines
What is the average cost patients expect to pay for migraine treatment with Botox? Depending on the requirements relating to your treatment, Botox injections in the USA can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000. On average, 1 vial of 100 units of Botox solution costs approximately $525, with 1 treatment session for migraines requiring a dose of approximately 155 units. Patients who are regular recipients of Botox injections are able to apply for a savings card that could provide up to $1,000 of savings in a year.
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.