For the Health of it

July 21-27, 2014

Botox – Liquid love for the migraine headache

By April Sherrill

Recent research has led to the use of Botox injections to prevent migraine pain.  The Botox injection, formed from the deadly bacteria botulinum toxin A, has been highly popular for the treatment of wrinkles for many years.  In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a preventive for migraine symptoms. 

In the U.S., more than 37 million people suffer from migraines. Some migraine studies show that 2-3 million of the migraine sufferers are chronic. A migraine is a severe, painful headache accompanied with pain on one side of the head, throbbing, nausea, changes in vision, vomiting, neck stiffness, light sensitivity and tingling in the limbs. Migraines can last for hours to days and for many people be crippling to their everyday life. Botox for migraine treatment is strictly intended for people who suffer 15 plus migraines a month or that last for four hours or more. 

Botox for migraines works much in the same way as it does for reducing facial wrinkling. The injections focus on trigger points to relax the muscles of the neck and head that slow contribution to migraine pain. This prevents the muscles from contracting and contributing to regular migraines. 

Of course, with any new medication there are always possible side effects. Some included side effects are rash, itching, difficulty swallowing, nausea, redness at the injection site and weakness. As a migraine patient myself, I have given up on traditional medications to help me make it through my headaches, and I have scheduled my first Botox appointment for this treatment. I figure the possible side effects of Botox could not compare to the debilitating pain I feel when I have migraines. 

In 2012, studies showed ninety-one percent of people are absent from work or cannot function during a migraine attack. One study estimates the loss of productivity in the U.S. to be between $5.6 billion to $17.2 billion per year, due to missed work. The average migraine sufferer misses two days of work per year. Some who suffer from persistent migraines are able to work during a migraine attack, which studies show lowers productivity. Estimates show migraines are the reason for 36 million days of bed rest, plus 21.5 million days of restricted activity.

Once every three months is the recommended treatment with Botox. Goals of the injections are to reduce the symptoms that result from the migraine. Results may not be immediate as improvement can take as long as 10 days. Some people may not even see results from the first visit. People have had better success with multiple treatments.  It is not effective on regular headaches.

As with any new, medical treatment consult your physician, and outweigh the risks and benefits based on your individual needs.