How Botox can help Migraines

For a long time now Botox has been more widely used for the prevention or treatment of wrinkles especially around the forehead and brow. Many celebrities use it to slow down the ageing process and it has become more widely used and recognised. A small dose is injected directly into the muscle of the affected area whereby the Botox will slowly paralyse the muscle and therefore prevent the appearance of the wrinkle. The effects can be seen within a matter of hours or a few days and last around 3-4 months at which point the effects will wear off and the wrinkles will revert. Many people use it to prevent or slow down the ageing process as it can be used on the forehead, around the eyes and around the mouth to get rid of the wrinkles and furrows we develop over time.
As well as being used as a cosmetic procedure for those who want to look younger, it also has medical uses. It can be used to correct facial spasms and ticks and for those with cerebral palsy and it can be used in the sweat glands for those who have overactive sweat glands. Botox is now also recommended for those who suffer from chronic headaches or migraines.

How does it help migraines?

The discovery that Botox helps migraines was completely accidental. People that were having it for their wrinkles around their brow and forehead reported that their headaches were getting better. Of course more studies had to be carried out to actually confirm that it did help with migraines and so a study including a large placebo study got underway. It is not sure how it helps migraines – it is thought that Botox may decrease the contraction of the muscle that acts as a trigger to the migraine or that it may actually act on the brain chemicals that trigger the migraines.
In October of 2010, following extensive randomised studies, Onabotulinum toxin A – Botox, was given approval by the FDA of America for use in adults having headaches for most days of the month that lasted for 4 hours or more. Chronic migraine is classed as those suffering for 15 days of a month and is endured by at least 2% of the population.

How is Botox different to other treatments?

Unlike other prescribed migraine treatments, Botox actually helps to prevent the onset of a migraine. Most oral drugs are taken at the first sign of a migraine whether that be the dancing patterns in front of the eyes or the slight feeling of a headache coming on. Botox actually acts to prevent the headaches from occurring in the first place.

Does it get rid of migraines completely?

The effectiveness of Botox on migraines very much depends on the type of migraine and how they are caused. Some patients report that their migraines go away completely whilst they are enjoying the effects of Botox whilst others report little or no change. For some it can offer some improvement but not a total cure. Headaches are triggered by different things – for some it can be stress, for others an intolerance to certain type of foods and for others they can be hormonal. Some people have no idea why they get them.
The effects of Botox will also vary according to the dose. When administering Botox for migraines a different dose is given to those who are receiving Botox for cosmetic purposes. The dose and injection sites vary and so some people who have it for cosmetic reasons may notice a difference to their headaches and some may not. If you are purely having it for cosmetic reasons you cannot expect a reduction in headaches as the norm. You need to have specific treatments to treat specific issues.

Is Botox suitable to treat your chronic headaches or migraines?

It is always advisable to seek the advice of a medical professional or someone who is licensed to administer Botox as they will have the correct knowledge and experience to advise you. There will be certain conditions and reasons that may prevent you from having Botox for migraines such as a previous reaction or certain allergies. You should also be fully aware of the side effects which are minimal but can still occur.

 

Sources

American Headache Society, Retrieved Sept 2016, Onabot
https://americanheadachesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/onabot-April-2014.pdf

Wikipedia, Retrieved Sept 2016, Botox
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulinum_toxin