Using Botox to Treat Migraines

by Dorian Lange, CEO & Co-Founder, Northern Arizona Pain Institutes

A migraine is an inherited neurological disorder that is described as the over excitability of specific areas of the brain. Untreated migraine attacks can last several hours, or a few days.

Although medically speaking, we do not understand how a brain with migraine is dissimilar to a normal brain, we do know that people who suffer with migraines are more likely to hold the transient factors that may raise the chances of having a migraine attack. These triggers may include environmental stimuli like weather or bright lights, hormonal fluctuations, specific smells, select foods, alcohol, low quality sleep and abnormal stress factors.

How does Botox work for migraines?

Botox is injected around pain fibers that are involved in headaches. Botox enters the nerve endings around where it is injected and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. This prevents activation of pain networks in the brain.

Botox prevents migraine headaches before they start but takes time to work. One treatment may last for up to 12 weeks, and patients reported that two Botox treatments reduced the number of headache days by approximately 50%.

What is a Botox treatment like?

With your first Botox treatment, expect the appointment to take about 40 minutes. Your medical professional will use a small needle that many compare to a pin prick. The doctor will inject low doses of Botox into surface muscles in the skin. Each treatment involves approximately three dozen injections in seven key areas of the head and neck.

The most common side effect is a sore neck. After care includes using a cold compress to reduce the discomfort. Full results can take up to six months to see the highest benefit. In the meantime, the patient can continue regular medications on most occasions.

If you think this could be a treatment for you, look for a neurologist in your area.

“At Northern Arizona Pain Institutes, we can see if you are the right candidate for Botox as a treatment for migraines,” Dr. Robert Brownsberger says. “Botox is only FDA-approved for chronic migraines. We now offer this treatment for migraine sufferers.”

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