Headache disorders, including migraines, are some of the most common disorders of the nervous system worldwide. Almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once in the past year, according to the World Health Organization. Among those individuals, over 30 percent have reported having migraines.
For many, migraines often feel like intense throbbing or pulsating headaches, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. They may last hours or even days. People who suffer from frequent attacks may seek out treatment for the symptoms, including Botox injections.
Botox injections were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010 for migraine treatment. As a newer form of pain management, it’s important that patients who suffer from migraines understand how it works, what to expect, as well as potential risks and/or side effects.
To learn more about treating migraines with Botox injections, please call Colorado Springs Neurological Associates at 719-473-3272. You can also fill out an online form to make an appointment.
How Botox Injections Can Help Treat Migraines
Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It’s made from the same toxin that causes severe food poisoning: botulism. Botox is safely used in small doses to treat migraines, as well as other health conditions including:
- Severe underarm sweating
- Cervical dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder muscle contractions
- Blepharospasm, or uncontrollable blinking
- Misaligned eyes
- Overactive bladder
- Temporary smoothing of facial wrinkles and cosmetic improvements
Because Botox injections weaken or paralyze certain muscles, or block certain nerves, they can be used to interrupt the pain-producing chemical process that leads to chronic migraines.
When you experience a migraine, your body releases neurotransmitters associated with pain. The botulinum toxin interferes with the neurotransmission, helping to prevent migraine pain.
In 2000, after some people receiving injections for cosmetic reasons reported a noticeable improvement in headaches, studies followed that concluded a significant reduction in headache occurrences and improved quality of life.
What to Expect During Botox Treatments
Botox injections for migraine treatment are individualized for each patient. Where and how you experience chronic migraines may be very different from the next patient. Because of this, your Botox injection treatments will depend on your body and your needs.
Generally, Botox injections may be applied to the forehead, temples, the back of the head, or the neck, or in areas where the patient experiences migraine pain. You may get between 30 and 40 injections in different spots. One session lasts between 10 and 15 minutes.
The effects last around three to four months. Some people may find that one or a few treatments is enough to stop their chronic migraines, while others may need periodic treatments for their pain.
Risks and Side Effects of Migraine Botox Treatment
The most common side effects of Botox injections are pain, swelling, bruising at the injection site, and transient neck pain and/or stiffness. Injections to the face can also cause the eyelids to temporarily droop. Some people may experience flu-like symptoms, headaches, or an upset stomach. People usually are able to go about their day and normal activities after a session.
Botox injections are not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are allergic to proteins found in cows’ milk, it’s recommended that you avoid Botox injections as well, since cows’ milk protein (albumin) is used to make Botox.
In theory, the spread of the Botox drug from the injection sites to other areas of the body could result in muscle weakness or paralysis. This is why doctors may avoid using Botox in patients with muscle weakness conditions. However, these types of side effects and body-wide reactions are rare.
Explore Migraine Treatment Options at CSNA
Everyone’s body is different, and everyone responds to migraine treatments differently. Botox may be an effective treatment option for you; however, it’s important that you discuss your health needs and concerns with an experienced physician or neurologist.
If you suffer chronic migraines and would like to explore Botox injections as a treatment option, call Colorado Springs Neurological Associates at 719-473-3272. You can also contact a CSNA representative using our online form, or follow the CSNA Facebook page for news and helpful resources.