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How is Botox used to treat migraines?
Botox is a recommended treatment for people who suffer from regular, chronic migraines or headaches. It’s injected into sites across the face, head, the back of the neck and shoulders every 12 weeks.
Although the exact reason why Botox eases migraines is unclear, it’s thought that it works by suppressing the nerves’ ability to send signals to the muscles which prevents muscle contraction. Abnormal muscle contraction is reduced by Botox which relaxes stiff overactive muscles. Stiff muscles cause the headaches.
Is Botox effective for migraines?
Yes. However, it’s been proven only to work for people who suffer from:
- migraines 15 days a month or more
- chronic migraines more than eight days a month
In both cases, the migraines last more than four hours.
People who have been successfully treated report that they experience fewer migraine days each month.
Botox is not an effective treatment for:
- less frequent migraines
- cluster headaches
- tension headaches
Does Botox stop migraines?
It can’t cure migraines completely, but it can reduce the number of days per month you suffer from them.
What types of migraine and associated symptoms can be treated?
Neck stiffness due to tense muscles neck pain
Botox is used to treat people who suffer from frequent chronic migraine and associated symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo. It isn’t an effective treatment for infrequent chronic migraines or for cluster, tension and sinus headaches.
Where is Botox injected for migraine treatment?
Your practitioner will use very fine needles to inject 30–40 sites across the face, head, neck and shoulders. They may tweak the recommended dosage based on your health assessment.
Injection sites may include the following:
- Between the eyebrows
- Across the forehead
- Both temples
- Side of the head
- Back of the head
- Back and side of the neck
- Top of the shoulders
What’s Allergan Botox migraine treatment?
Botox is the brand name of a type of chemical called botulinum type A, manufactured by the company Allergan. So Allergan migraine treatment and injection sites are exactly the same as those for Botox treatment—it’s just a different name.
Your practitioner may ask you to activate certain muscles before injecting them—for example, by raising your eyebrows or frowning.
Depending on where you’re injected, your practitioner may need to pinch sections of skin to be able to insert the needle more easily.
Do the injections hurt?
Patients report that although injections can hurt a little bit, they are nowhere near as painful as having a migraine.
The needles used are very fine but you may feel a pinching sensation when you receive the injection. You may also experience some light bleeding and/or small bumps at the injection sites.
How soon does the treatment start working?
It usually takes two treatments for patients to notice a major difference in the number of migraines they experience.
You receive the first two treatments 12 weeks apart. You may only notice a slight improvement after the first treatment. By the second treatment you should notice a gradual reduction in the number of migraines you experience and an improvement in your overall quality of life.
At this point, your practitioner will assess whether you would benefit from treatment every 12 weeks as a preventative measure.
How much does the treatment cost?
One cycle of Botox treatment will cost from £335.
What type of clinic provides the treatment?
Have your treatment done at a doctor-led clinic. This could be a medical or aesthetic clinic, but the person prescribing it should be a qualified doctor.
As migraines are a medical condition, it’s vital that your treatment is provided by a doctor who has:
- a thorough understanding of facial anatomy
- experience of treating migraines with Botox injections
Botox is a prescription-only medicine, which means it can only be prescribed by a doctor, dentist or prescribing nurse after a face-to-face consultation.
Botox for migraines vs cosmetic Botox – What’s the difference?
One procedure is designed to treat and prevent migraines and headaches, the other to reduce facial wrinkles.
However, both procedures often involve injecting similar areas in the forehead and between the eyebrows.
Does having Botox for migraines help wrinkles as well?
Some patients find that having treatment for migraines also improves the appearance of wrinkles on their forehead and between their eyebrows.
However, when used to treat migraines, Botox won’t affect your appearance dramatically as very small amounts are injected. If you go to an experienced practitioner, they will administer the treatment so precisely that it will have little impact on your wrinkles.
What should I expect when having the treatment?
During your first consultation, your practitioner will assess your health and check that Botox is a suitable treatment for your migraines.
They will ask you a series of questions, including:
- how many days a month you suffer from migraines or headaches
- how many hours they last
- how severe the pain is
- whether the pain affects your day-to-day activities
- where you experience migraines (many people experience pain on just one side of their head, for example)
- what other migraine symptoms you experience (for example, dizziness, blurred vision, vertigo etc.)
They will also ask you about your medical history and health in general, including:
- what medication you’re currently taking—or have taken in the past—to treat your migraines or headaches
- how well you feel your current medication is working
- any other medical condition you have and what medication you’re taking for these
- any allergies you have
- whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
Your practitioner may carry out tests to check your overall health, such as:
- blood pressure
- pulse rate
- breathing rate
If your practitioner is happy with your overall health and agrees you’re a suitable candidate for Botox, your treatment will begin.
What to expect after Botox injections for migraines
For most patients, it takes two sessions of treatment before there is any significant improvement. Because you have the first two procedures 12 weeks apart, it’s important not to expect an immediate difference in the number of headaches you experience.
There’s no recovery time required after having the treatment and you don’t have to do anything specific to ensure the treatment works. It’s simply a matter of waiting for the treatment to work. You can return to your normal activities straight away.
The effects of the treatment usually last around 10–12 weeks, with results starting to wear off after 10 weeks.
Results show that Botox reduces the number of headaches in 70% of people who are treated with it, making it an effective treatment for many patients. However, it’s important to note that the treatment doesn’t work for all patients.
What are the side effects?
The most common side effects of treating migraines with Botox are:
- neck pain
- muscular weakness
- drooping eyelids
However, these affect less than 7% of patients and all of them are short-term.
Immediately after having the treatment you may find that you experience light bleeding, mild bruising and some swelling where the needle was inserted. This should settle down after a couple of hours.
Does Botox cause headaches?
In some patients Botox can make migraines worse. This is because the treatment can cause some other facial muscles to over-contract. In most cases the headaches caused are very mild and brief.
Botox has the same side effects for migraine treatment as it does for cosmetic purposes. These include:
- an allergic reaction
- rashes and itchiness
- facial swelling
These, however, are all very rare. You can see a full list of side-effects here.
Is Botox safe for migraines?
Yes, it’s a highly tested prescription-only medicine that’s certified to treat medical conditions, including migraines.
Should I have the treatment if I’m pregnant?
No, simply because there is no clinical evidence that proves Botox is safe to have when pregnant or breastfeeding. Speak to your GP about alternative migraine treatments.
Is this treatment available on the NHS?
Yes. However, it’s usually only prescribed after you’ve tried all other alternative treatments. You may also have to wait to have the procedure done.
Can I drive after having the treatment?
Yes. However, if you suffer the rare side effects of dizziness and vision problems, it’s best not to drive.
Will the treatment stop working after a while?
In rare cases, Botox can become less effective over time as your body develop an immunity to the chemical.
What happens when the treatment wears off?
The benefits of Botox usually start to wear off after 10–12 weeks, when you may begin experiencing more frequent headaches or migraines. Injections are given every 12 weeks, so there may be two weeks where you may need other medication to ease your symptoms. Speak to your GP about what medication you can take.
What happens if I stop using Botox for migraines?
Your migraines may come back if you stop treatment.
What if the treatment doesn’t work for me?
Not everyone who tries Botox as a treatment for migraines will find that it works. Studies have shown that it helps to reduce symptoms in about 70% of patients.
You can find out more about the effects of having Botox by reading our Aftercare FAQs.
If you suffer from chronic migraines and would like to find out more about how this treatment can help ease your symptoms, please get in touch with the team on 01252 933 133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.