Can Botox Help Prevent Migraines?

Botox is a well-known wrinkle fighter, but did you know that Botox can also be used to treat chronic migraine headaches? With migraines affecting up to 17% of women and 6% percent of men, these excruciating headaches rank as one of the top 20 causes of disability. While the causes of migraine headaches are relatively unknown, treatment for them has progressed from conventional prescription medications to injections—and Botox appears to be a trending remedy for headaches. What’s more exciting is that Botox is FDA-approved to effectively treat migraines; so many insurance companies cover this treatment. Here’s what you need to know.

What is it?

Botox (Onabotulinum toxin A) is a purified protein that belongs to the class of compounds known as neurotoxins that were initially approved the US Food & Drug Administration to treat eye muscle disorders like strabismus (Lazy Eye) and blepharospasms. Since then, its use has extended its reach toward more cosmetic uses and now pain management. Botox is the same substance that is produced in spoiled food and causes the illness known as botulism. However, in medical use, Botox is injected directly into the upper neck muscles, scalp and forehead rather than absorbed into the bloodstream. Furthermore, the doses used are much less than those causing botulism.

How does it Work?

Botox weakens or paralyzes muscles by preventing the release of acetylcholine, a signal that the nerves need to cause muscle contraction. These contraction intervals cause painful spasms that can trigger migraines in response to stress, depression, anxiety and other elements of anguish. Hence, the inhibition of peripheral nociceptive neurotransmitters will affect the central pain processing system that generates migraines. Over time, a significant reduction in the amount of headaches will be achieved.

Is Botox Right for Me?

Oral medications, such as Topamax, Amitriptyline, and Imitrex, have been given to patients for many years. Sadly, those who suffer from chronic migraines know these medications all too well and still experience little to no relief. Sound familiar? Then, perhaps Botox is right for you. While most insurance companies do cover chronic migraine treatment, you must first be thoroughly evaluated by a physician and fit the criteria. The FDA requirements are as followed:

• The patient must show at least 15 migraines per month.
• Each migraine must last for 4 hours or more.
• The patient must show that they have tried and failed multiple medications.

Whether you meet the requirements for Botox or not, it’s important that you have an informed discussion about your headaches and the options for treatment with either a pain specialist or general practitioner.

What next?

Generally, Botox is not a first line of treatment for migraine headaches. Homeopathic and other conventional medications may be used prior to Botox therapy. While Botox can be used to prevent many crushing migraines, it is not effective for treatment of existing headaches. Furthermore, chronic migraine treatment using Botox is restricted to a few specialists who received appropriate training. The physicians at Prizm Pain Specialists have not only been professionally trained in the diagnosis and management of chronic migraine, but the delivery of Botox medication as well.

If you suffer from severe headaches and would like more information on chronic migraine treatment, including Botox, please contact our office. For more articles and other headache remedies please visit www.PrizmPain.com

 

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