05 Mar Botox For Chronic Migraines
Botox came to prominence as a therapy to remove wrinkles on the face and give it a smoother and cleaner look. You’ve probably heard of Botox and know people who have used it to smooth wrinkles and fine lines. What you may not know is it has brought relief to many who suffer from chronic migraines.
Botox Treatment for Chronic Migraine
In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox for use in cases of chronic migraine. And, many patients have reported significant benefits from Botox treatment.
Chronic migraine is a medical condition in which the patient suffers headaches for 15 or more days during the month. Botox works better when the frequency of headache is more, according to Dr. Andrew Blumenfeld. Botox is not recommended for patients who experience a headache less than 15 days a month.
In a study of adult chronic migraine patients, it was found that Botox treatment cut down the number of headaches days per month and even reduced other types of headaches. They also reported more pain-free days each month.
Another study revealed that nearly 50% of the total number of chronic migraine patients who were given two shots of Botox reported that the number of days they had a headache each month dropped by half. After five shots of Botox, the number of people whose headache days were cut down by half increased to 70%.
How It Works?
Doctors believe that Botox blocks chemicals that act as neurotransmitters carrying pain signals from the brain. Botox acts like a roadblock. It prevents the chemicals from reaching the nerve endings in the head and neck, making it impossible for the pain signals to register in the brain. Botox reduces muscle contractions temporarily for about 3 months.
Botox is injected with very small needles in the shallow skin around pain fibers involved in headaches. It blocks the release of chemicals that transmit pain signals and prevents the pain networks from being activated in the brain.
What is Botox?
Botox is a poison, a neurotoxin, made by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. It is generally found in spoiled food and can be fatal if ingested because it prevents signals from the nerves to reach the muscles. But in Botox treatment, it is safe because the amount of toxin used is very small and it does not enter the digestive system of the body but remains localized in the affected region of the face.
Botox helps smooth wrinkles by relaxing facial muscles. It is also found to be useful in tics and spasms caused by cerebral palsy.
The discovery of Botox as a treatment for chronic migraines is rooted in Botox treatment for wrinkles. Some patients with chronic migraines reported improvement in the symptoms to their doctor after receiving Botox treatment for their wrinkles. Doctors followed this up by experimenting Botox as a treatment for chronic headaches.
The good thing about Botox is that it prevents migraine headaches, but it takes time to show its effects. Dr. Andrew Blumenfeld says he counts on second and third shots to get the best result. As the treatment cycle progresses the patient begins to see increasing benefits. One treatment remains effective for 10-12 weeks and after two Botox treatments, patients reported the number of headache days cut down by half.
The FDA has approved the use of Botox in the treatment of chronic migraine among adults, who are 18 or over. Botox treatment is an “off-label” treatment, which means insurance companies may not pay for it while doctors can prescribe it.
What is Treatment Like?
The first Botox treatment can take about 20 minutes. The needle used in the treatment is very small and feels like a pinprick. Small amounts of Botox are injected into the shallow muscles. Typically, each treatment consists of 31 injections, which are administered in seven strategic areas of the head and neck. One of the most common side effects of Botox treatment is a sore neck, which can be treated with an ice pack that can reduce the discomfort. For the Botox treatment to show its optimum results, it can take up to six months. During Botox treatment, you should continue with your regular medications as Botox treatment does not run any risk of interaction.
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