It has been said that migraines affect about 12% of the American population. With throbbing pain that often causes dizziness and nausea, patients are usually unable to function on their headache days which could count as many as 15 or 16 days per month. This kind of pain is disabling as it affects the overall quality of the patient’s life in addition to his or her productivity, professional and social relationships.
This is why patients and doctors are always exploring available treatments to make life more bearable for people who experience this kind of pain. Botox for migraines treatment is one of the many different means to alleviate some of the pain that people have to endure. In fact, treatments have been so successful that Botox has been approved by the FDA(1) to treat migraines.
In this article, we will discuss how Botox for migraines treatment is used, and give you some insight into the procedures involved in undergoing this medical procedure, which involves the use of injections.
How is Botox for Migraines Treatment Used?
To be upfront, it must be noted that this treatment doesn’t promise a permanent cure and has some potential side effects. Still, a lot of patients are willing to give it a try in order to have some pain-free days every month. This is because for some, the pain is so intense that any kind of relief is worth it.
To give you an idea of what this kind of treatment plan looks like, the FDA’s protocol suggests that Botox injections should be given every 10 to 12 months around the face and the neck area. What’s important to understand here is that the treatment doesn’t immediately go to work straightaway on the symptoms. However, it does gradually work to reduce the intensity of the pain and the frequency of the attacks.
Typically, to start with, the doctor will administer 31 shots into 7 pre-marked spots in the head and neck. The total number of units should typically amount to 155 units. Some patients might use a fewer number of injections and units depending on their weight and health status. As with any kind of medical procedure, a variety of factors are taken into account when administering this treatment, including the costs involved.
The results vary among individual patients but it is said that the results of Botox for migraines can last up to 3 months. As the results start to wear off, patients are typically scheduled for another treatment.
Another important point to note is that not all patients are eligible for Botox shots. Only the ones who have been professionally diagnosed with chronic migraines would benefit from such treatments. Patients who suffer from stress-related headaches, for example, will experience no improvement with repeated Botox injections.
What Should You Look Out For?
Botox for migraines treatments should only be done by a certified and trained doctor to avoid any adverse effects. While some patients report some minor side effects like neck pain and blurry vision, others might find these kinds of after effects intolerable. These could be avoided, however, if the doctor starts with a smaller dose to see if it works for that particular patient. Sometimes, the Botox will spread beyond the injection site, in a case known as botulism.
This is characterized by troubles swallowing and breathing. As the Botox wears off, patients will start to experience fewer problems. Droopy eyelids represent another major cosmetic concern that could be the result of injecting Botox for migraines. Some patients would be put off by the whole treatment plan just to avoid such a potential side effect that could deeply affect their personal and social lives. On this note, it is worth mentioning here that the FDA doesn’t recommend using Botox for treating patients who face less than 15 migraine days per month.
This is because unless the pain is very frequent and severe, the side effects might not be worth it. If you don’t experience chronic and debilitating migraines, you should seek alternative treatments as this might not be the best option for you.
An additional point to take heed of is that Botox for migraines treatment shouldn’t be done too frequently even if the patient doesn’t experience much improvement. As with all kinds of medical procedures that come with a risk, you need to consult with a medical professional before undergoing any treatment. This is because only a proper doctor’s consultation will help you decide on the adequacy of the treatment.
As with any kind of medical procedure, it’s important to consult a qualified and reputable medical professional. Only they can guide you as to the exact treatment plan and procedures that will work for you.
As mentioned above, this type of treatment is only really for people who experience such intense pain that this is one of the only real options to get relief. If you only experience headaches occasionally, Botox for migraines might not be the best option for you.