Do you suffer from recurring head-splitting headaches? The next time it happens, pay close attention to the specific symptoms as you may actually be suffering from migraines. This particular type of headache typically affects half of the head, creating a pulsating sensation that can last for as long as 2 to 72 hours. The pain from these episodes may range from moderate to severe. In some cases, associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell may also become apparent. Needless to say, migraines should not be caffeine headaches or scintillating scotoma as they fall under a separate category.
It may come as a surprise to many that migraines are actually fairly common. As such, there is also a myriad of different ways to alleviate its symptoms. So, if you are looking for specific ways on how to get rid of headaches, then have no fear as we have you covered. For instance, the use of Botox injections has become one of the most popular treatment options readily available today.
For those unfamiliar with the treatment, it is a form of botulinum toxin, called onabotulinumtoxin A, which is directly injected into the patient’s system. The treatment gained initial popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a wrinkle reducer. It is primarily used to restore the youthfulness and vibrancy of one’s face. However, it wasn’t long before researchers realized the potential of Botox in terms of treating other medical conditions such as migraines as well as repetitive neck spasms, eye twitching, and overactive bladders.
This article succinctly explains everything you need to know about using Botox for migraines. It goes into how this treatment works and what makes it effective as a cure. It also delves into some of the possible side effects which may develop as a result of this treatment.
Understanding the Use of Botox for Headaches
Botox is commonly used to mitigate and prevent the onset of headaches for adults suffering from chronic migraines. For some people, these headaches can occur on a regular basis. In worse cases, it can occur as often as 15 or more days in a single month. In 2010, Botox was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a possible preventive treatment option for chronic migraines.
Basically, it works as an inhibitor that counteracts pain and pulsating sensation that has come to be associated with severe headaches. This simply means that it blocks the release of certain brain chemicals, such as acetylcholine, which cause the symptoms of migraines. By doing so, Botox prevents the nerves from sending pain messages to the brain.
To give you a better understanding of how Botox works, it would be best to think of the procedure as a controlled means of inducing a temporary paralysis for a select group of muscles. This is because Botox also effectively blocks the movement of certain nerves and muscles. This makes them less sensitive to pain as the process essentially blocks the chemical signals from your nerves.
That being said, we would be remiss if we fail to mention the practical concerns surrounding this particular procedure. This is because Botox can be a bit expensive compared to other migraine treatments. To be more precise, the approximate cost of Botox for migraines could easily cost you around $700. This is because a 100 unit vial of Botox costs around $525. The typical dose of Botox for migraine treatment is at 155 units.
Clinical Studies Surrounding the Use of Botox for Headaches
The substance is available in the form of an injection. It is important that readers understand that both Botox and Botox Cosmetic both contain the same ingredients. However, the latter is a form of Botox applied to reduce facial wrinkles. There is also a vital difference when it comes to their approved uses and labeling.
It is also worth noting that Botox was evaluated in a number of well-designed clinical studies. One of these studies included a sample population of people who were experiencing more than 15 days of migraine headaches in a given month. Their headaches would last at least 4 hours per day. These people were not using any form of migraine prevention medicines prior to the trial. This is juxtaposed against a controlled sample wherein patients were given placebo injections.
The study was conducted over a period of 24 weeks. The final results of the trial showed measurable and meaningful differences between these two groups. For instance, by the 28th day of the study, the frequency of headaches had dropped for patients receiving the Botox treatment. At the same time, the total headache hours for the Botox group was also drastically reduced compared to that of the placebo group.
Botox for migraines what to expect
If you plan on getting Botox then you need to prepare yourself mentally beforehand, especially if you are afraid of needles. This is because you will be getting it, multiple times. It is also worth stating here that if Botox is to be used for chronic migraines, then the potency of the substance will also need to be lessened. Concurrently, its dosage will also need to be diluted to achieve the desired results.
Typically, the treatments are spread across a series of 31 injections which will be applied to 7 specific regions of the head and the neck. Remember that your doctor will be following a specially-designed migraine protocol for your injections. In order to be as effective as possible, physicians recommend that the treatment be performed regularly, at least every 12 weeks.
The injections themselves typically take no less than 15 minutes. Most of these injections may end up feeling like a small prick or bee sting, so it should not be too bad. However, patients should be prepared for the injections around the forehead and eyebrows as these have been shown to create a bit more discomfort compared to the rest.
Now, aside from the discomfort of the needles themselves, you should also prepare yourself for the possible immediate onset of a migraine right after the injections. This is fairly common if it is your first time getting the treatment along with some discomfort or pain around the neck area. Some people also experience flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and pains, as well as nausea and fatigue. These are just a few of the reasons why we highly recommend that you go in prepared with secondary treatments on hand.
Despite the effectiveness of Botox for most people, it should go without saying that there is no perfect treatment. Botox injections are no exception as patients have reported differing levels of success. While some feel the positive effects of the treatment almost instantaneously, others find that it takes a little while before their migraine symptoms go away completely.
On average, you will need 2-3 rounds of injections, that would be 9 months in total before you can see any significant results. That amount of time should be used to confirm whether the treatment agrees with you or not. It is also not unheard of for patients to respond well to the first treatment as the frequency of the migraines start to go down within 1 to 4 months. Again, the actual results may vary.
You would also be glad to know that Botox does not have any adverse reactions with other preventative migration medications. This means that you may continue using those in conjunction with Botox therapy, just make sure that you bring it up with your doctors beforehand so that they can give you their approval.
If you respond well to the treatments, the Botox in your system should help reduce the frequency of migraine episodes per month. At the same time, the treatments have been shown to help in terms of reducing the severity and duration of these attacks. However, while the total elimination of migraines is certainly possible, it is improbable. In fact, many physicians would deem it to be unusual. After all, the goal of the treatments itself is to make the migraines episodic instead of chronic. Expecting them to go away completely may only set you up for disappointment.
It would be great if you have a good understanding of the injection areas yourself. This is so that you know what to expect during the procedure. Prior knowledge is also vital if you also wish to check if your physician is administering the procedure correctly. Remember, failure to follow the migraine protocol can lead to adverse complications and it would also inevitably compromise the effectiveness of your treatment.
Botox for migraines and side effects
Of course, it is necessary that readers understand that this treatment should be used correctly. That is if you wish to avoid any unwanted side-effects. For instance, most people do not realize that consuming the substance can lead to a life-threatening form of food poisoning, known as botulism. However, it is perfectly safe to be injected into your body, as long as it is done by a medical professional who knows what they are doing.
There have been documented cases wherein patients have a negative reaction to the substance. This is mostly due to incorrect dosage or improper use of the substance. These side effects can manifest in a number of different ways including:
- Temporary Loss of Facial Movement
- Drooping of Eyelids
- Inflammation of the Lungs
- Neck pain
- Stiffness and weakness of the muscles
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Pain at injection site
- High blood pressure
In rare circumstances, the paralyzing effect of Botox can inadvertently spread to the different areas of the body. There are also cases wherein the substance has been shown to cause double vision, general weakness, voice and speech disorders among patients. Some people also have a hard time breathing and swallowing while some even lose the control of their bladder control.
Of course, this should not put readers off the idea of pursuing Botox treatments for their headaches. This is because these cases are few and far between. There have also been no documented cases wherein these side-effects manifested after following the proper usage of the substance. As stated before proper dosage is of crucial importance when it comes to Botox treatments.
Points to Consider Before Getting the Treatment
By itself, Botox is already a multi-billion dollar industry. When it first came out, it was used primarily for a variety of cosmetic treatments. However, soon enough, physicians would discover its application for other medical conditions. As presented in this article, its latest purported use has been for the treatment of chronic migraines.
Botox treatments are certainly worth it, especially when you take into consideration the success rate for patients. However, there are a few things you may need to take into consideration beforehand. For instance, you need to ensure that you have made the most of the anti-migraine medications available on the market first.
This is because Botox treatments can be rather expensive. You will need to ensure that you maximize the other much cheaper options first. Do not look at Botox injections as your first choice. Instead, it would be more practical to use it as a fallback if your current treatment has been proven to be ineffective.
Obviously, if you plan on using Botox to treat your headaches, then you should not be afraid of needles. Otherwise, the whole treatment will prove to be more uncomfortable than it should be. Keep in mind that there are also other non-pharmaceutical treatments being offered today.
As a basic rule it, it would be best if you consult with your physician beforehand so that they can properly assess your condition. It would also serve you well to know if you have any allergies to speak of. After all, an adverse reaction to the treatment can be rather cumbersome. In addition to this, you should also exercise due caution if you have prior conditions which can directly affect your muscles or nerves. The treatment would also be inadvisable for those who have only recently undergone facial surgery.
This article delved into the different aspects of Botox treatments for chronic migraines. Make sure that you remember all the things presented here before undergoing any medical procedures such as this one.