How Is Botox Used to Treat Headaches?

If you experience headaches for more than 15 days per month and don’t respond to over-the-counter or prescription medications, then your physician might recommend that you try Botox for migraines.

You might be familiar with Botox injections as a wrinkle reducing treatment. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Botox treatments for the prevention of chronic migraines. These injections are successful at treating many refractory migraine patients who have already failed to obtain relief from multiple preventives and often other modalities. The treatment consists of injecting a purified, distilled neurotoxin called botulinum toxin into specific locations associated with the occurrence of headaches.

The mechanism of action of this treatment is not fully understood. By paralyzing muscles surrounding the injection sites, Botox for migraines may block pain pathways in the trigeminovascular system, thereby blocking chemicals that cause pain and pain signals from the nerves.

It is required that multiple medication trials fail before Botox for migraines can be tried. If this applies to you, an experienced clinician will administer Botox injections into key areas, such as:

  • Your forehead
  • Your temporal area
  • The back of your head
  • The back of your neck
  • The bridge of your nose
  • Your upper back

It may take as long as 10 to 14 days for you to experience relief. If you respond well to this treatment, your headache specialist will recommend that you receive Botox for migraines once every three months. Results are often better after the first set of injections, so your doctor will most likely try two sets of injections before deciding that you are not responding.

Botox side effects are rare. In fact, Botox treatments generally cause fewer side effects than other headache medication. You may feel a small prickle with each injection and experience neck pain. Other common side effects of Botox for migraines can include temporary muscle weakness in the upper shoulders and neck. You may also experience pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site and headache or flu-like symptoms. Uncommon side effects include a droopy eyelid, a crooked smile and drooling.

A Botox injection may cause other, more serious side effects, but these generally occur when Botox is used for other reasons at higher doses. If the medicine spreads to other areas of the body, more severe side effects may include:

  • Muscle weakness all over the body
  • Vision problems
  • Problems with speaking, swallowing and/or breathing
  • Loss of bladder control

These side effects rarely occur when using Botox for migraines and are associated with higher doses, which is why you should always consult a headache specialist before trying Botox for headaches.

Not everyone will respond to Botox for migraines, but a 50 percent reduction in frequency is considered a positive result. Botox treatments can also decrease symptoms of migraines, such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to smell, light and sound.

What Is the Cost of Botox?

If not covered by your insurance, Botox for migraines can be expensive. Since Botox is also used for cosmetic purposes, certain prerequisites and restrictions need to be met for insurance carriers. Adkins Headache Center is very familiar with insurance requirements and will gladly provide all appropriate information about Botox for migraines to your insurance company.

What You Can Expect at Adkins Headache Center

If our medical team thinks you might benefit from Botox for migraines, your appointments will involve receiving injections by our experienced provider. Botox injections are performed with a small, fine needle ordered specifically for this purpose. The injection process is carried out in the office and takes around five minutes. It may take four days to one week for you to start experiencing the benefits of Botox. If the treatment proves to be effective, you will be asked to return to Adkins Headache Center in twelve weeks to receive another set of injections.

Botox for Migraines