How Does Botox Help Treat Chronic Migraines?
While most of us think of Botox as a way to prevent wrinkles or frown lines, it also is used to treat chronic migraine headaches. Therefore, this drug is considered a miracle drug for people whose migraine pain is debilitating.
The following information highlights the use of Botox for “smoothing out” the problems associated with pronounced chronic migraine pain.
Are You the Right Candidate for Botox for Migraines?
If you get migraines frequently, you can receive Botox injections for chronic migraines. To be eligible for the shots, you should have a history of migraines or have headaches (including tension headaches) for 15 days or more throughout the month. The headaches should last, on average, at least four hours.
If you experience migraines 14 or fewer days each month or suffer from other headaches such as cluster headaches, you’ll have to seek a different treatment plan.
Botox for Migraines: Why It Works
The medical name for Botox for chronic migraines is OnabotulinumtoxinA.
The Botox injections used to relieve migraine pain are the same as receiving Botox for cosmetic purposes. The shots are given differently.
What Exactly is Botox?
Botox represents a neurotoxin-type poison. Clostridium botulinum makes up the bacteria that produce the toxin. This is the same bacteria that makes you sick if you eat spoiled foods. In this case, the toxin, when consumed, causes botulism.
Botulism can lead to problems with swallowing, muscle weakness, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, and problems with moving the eyes. This lack of eye movement leads to its use for preventing wrinkles and frowns.
The toxin paralyzes the muscles, thereby smoothing out the skin and making it difficult to frown. When it is injected, Botox is safe because the recipient does not ingest it. Because it relaxes the facial muscles and is used to treat spasms, Botox can also relax the muscles to prevent the onset of a migraine.
What the Studies Reveal
Researchers found that adults who experience chronic migraines experienced fewer days in pain when they received shots of Botox. Recipients who received two shots of Botox reported that the number of days they missed work because of migraines was cut by 50%. Three more treatment sessions led to even better results, with more people missing fewer days at work.
Neurologists believe Botox is an effective migraine medicine because it stops transmitting pain signals to the brain. That’s because it bars neurotransmitters from doing their job in carrying the signs. The pain signals do not reach the nerve endings in the neck and head areas.
Therefore, doctors inject several Botox shots around the neck and head every three months to prevent migraine discomfort. You may need to receive about 30 shots total - shots given on each side of the head.
More shots are administered to the sites that have more pain. Results may be realized about three weeks after the initial treatment. Make sure you contact a neurologist specifically trained to administer Botox shots for migraine conditions.
Other Ways to Prevent Migraines
Besides using Botox to prevent migraines, you can find ways to steer away from the onset of a migraine as well.
Several different things or events may cause a migraine. One of the big things to avoid is the use of too bright of light. Keep your sunglasses handy and invest in migraine glasses that feature tinted lenses that filter glare and light.
No More Stomach Upset
You can choose from several medicines to treat a migraine headache. However, scientists have proven that Botox does allow a migraine sufferer to experience fewer pain-free days. Most treatments recommended for migraines cause an intestinal upset as well. Therefore, it is good to know you can avoid this problem if you receive Botox injections regularly.
Besides Botox, you can also soothe away pain or the beginnings of pain by placing an ice pack on your neck, head, or forehead. Adding the cold compress reduces the blood flow, so it slows down the blood coursing through your veins and arteries, which, in turn, prevents a throbbing kind of pain.
Getting Your Magnesium and B2
Nutritionists suggest eating foods with magnesium or taking the mineral in supplement form to prevent migraines. Also, B2, or riboflavin, prevents migraines.
How Botox Treatments Work
A Botox appointment for migraine treatment is pretty fast and takes about 15 - 30 minutes. Before the appointment, your doctor may request that you stop taking certain medicines before the injections if you’ve had a Botox injection during the past four months. This injection may include treatments for wrinkles or migraines.
During the appointment, the doctor may numb the area with a topic anesthetic. They will give shots at sites in the head and neck area that typically are painful. You may feel a slight pinch as the doctor administers the shots.
After the procedure, you can go home right away. While it is usually safe to drive yourself, you still may prefer to have someone else handle the steering. Botox shots should only be applied by someone who is licensed in health care and trained to give Botox migraine treatment shots.
Common Side Effects
Side effects from Botox shots are usually mild and subside entirely in about two days. Side effects include:
- Sore neck or mild headache
- Swelling, pain, or redness at the site the Botox was given
- Blurry vision
- Eyes that water or that are dry
After receiving Botox and feeling more pain relief, you can also think of ways to improve your environment. Often, migraine sufferers need to change their environment to work without worry or perform daily living skills comfortably.
An Environmental Overload
Some things that can lead to migraines include fluorescent lighting, car exhaust fumes, colognes or perfumes, and construction noise. Being exposed to these types of things can lead to a sensory overload.
If you suspect you’re at risk for migraine in your environment, immediately assess the situation and try to change things. If you’re unable to change your location, dim the lights, open a window, or put on headphones designed to clock out sounds.
Make Migraine Pain a Thing of the Past
You can overcome migraine headache pain. By receiving Botox injections and making some environmental and dietary modifications, you can experience far fewer incidents of pain.