Botox for Chronic Migraines
Migraines can cause nausea, sensitivity to light and significant pain for hours to days, keeping you from performing daily tasks and participating in activities you enjoy. For those who experience chronic migraines at least eight times a month, Botox injections can block pain-causing chemicals in the nerves and bring relief.
Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in treating various types of headaches, including chronic migraines. We offer a full spectrum of neurological care and the latest approaches to pain relief and migraine management, including Botox therapy. Best of all, you’ll appreciate locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.
When is Botox Used to Treat Migraines?
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Botox – a form of the botulinum neurotoxin – for the treatment of chronic migraines.
People with chronic migraines have:
- A history of migraine headaches
- Headaches (including tension-type) on 15 or more days per month
- At least eight migraines per month
Small doses of Botox block the release of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which carry pain signals from the brain. The FDA approves the use of Botox to treat chronic migraine in adults (age 18 and up). A physician can prescribe Botox for children or teenagers with chronic migraines, but because this is an “off-label” treatment, insurance companies may not pay for it.
Treatment with Botox is not recommended for people who have headaches fewer than eight times per month or those who have other types of headaches, like cluster or tension-type headaches.
What Can Botox Treatment Accomplish?
Treatment with Botox requires several rounds of injections – typically once every 12 weeks. Botox injections help prevent migraine attacks before they start, but patient experiences vary. Some people notice a reduction in migraine symptoms two to three weeks after their first treatment. For others, it can take several months to feel the treatment’s maximum benefit.
People treated with Botox for chronic migraines report:
- A significantly reduced number of migraines, and associated pain, nausea, and light- and sound sensitivity
- A reduced number of headaches per month
- More pain-free days per month.
- Fewer missed days of work/activities
What Can I Expect During Botox Treatment?
Botox treatments typically take 20 to 30 minutes. Your physician will use a very small needle to inject tiny amounts of Botox into shallow muscles in your head and neck. People describe the injections as feeling like pinpricks.
You may need between 30 and 40 shots, and you’ll receive them on each side of the head and neck. If you feel migraine pain often in one specific spot, your physician may administer additional injections at that site.
Botox injections will be administered right in the physician’s office and you can go home the same day. Botox for chronic migraines is usually administered every 90 days and patients are often able to decrease or stop taking their other migraine medications.
Because Botox treatments are performed in your physician’s office on an outpatient basis, there is no need for a hospital stay. Most people who receive these injections can go home or back to work as soon as the session is complete.
The effectiveness of botox injections for chronic migraines often improves with the second injection and even more in the third set of injections. The benefits from the third injection are normally sustained.
Botox Treatment Possible Risks
The most common complaints after Botox treatment for chronic migraines are neck pain and headaches. You can use an ice pack or over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce this discomfort.
Allergic reactions to Botox can occur, but they are very rare. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the lower legs
There has never been a confirmed case in which Botox from an injection spread to other parts of the body. However, because botulinum is a neurotoxin, this is theoretically possible and could be life-threatening.
Seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following after receiving the injections:
- All-over muscle weakness or loss of strength
- Double vision or blurred vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Hoarseness/change/or loss of voice
- Loss of bladder control
- Trouble speaking, swallowing or breathing
Next Steps with MyChart
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