Botox in Chronic Migraines

How do botulinum toxin injectables help treat migraines?

Evidence suggests that the drug interrupts the pathway of pain transmission between the brain (central nervous system) and nerves that extend from the spinal cord.

When you have a migraine, your body releases substances called neurotransmitters and molecules that are associated with pain. Botulinum toxin interferes with the transmission of these substances, typically where the nerves and muscles meet. Researchers think that when the drug is injected into the muscles around the face, head and neck, it is taken up by the nerves and interferes with pain-associated neurotransmission.

Why might I need botulinum toxin injections for migraine treatment?
Botulinum toxin treatments have been proved effective in clinical trials, and are one way to treat chronic migraines. Other medications, and lifestyle changes, might be recommended. If your doctor determines that you have chronic migraines, you might be a candidate for this treatment.
Migraine Treatment with Injectables — What to Expect

Using a very small needle, botulinum toxin is injected into the tiny muscles under your skin throughout various areas around your face, head and neck. 

You might get injections in your forehead, temples, and the back of your head and neck. Sometimes your doctor will inject areas called “trigger points” where the headache pain originates.

It can take several weeks and multiple treatments before you start experiencing relief from your migraines. Some patients find they can discontinue injections without frequent migraines returning. Others need regular treatments to keep migraines under control.

Botulinum toxin can be effective in reducing the frequency of headaches in patients with chronic migraine and can also reduce debilitating symptoms associated with these migraines.

What are the risks of using injectables for migraines?

Botulinum toxin injectables should be avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers, as well as people with an allergy to proteins in cow’s milk.

Botulinum toxin injections are relatively safe. However, some people experience pain, bruising or swelling where the drug was injected. Other possible side effects are:

  • Headache or flulike symptoms
  • Dry or watering eye
  • Drooping on one eyelid, eyebrow or side of the mouth
  • Drooling

Very rarely, if the toxin accidentally spreads into your body, other, more serious symptoms might occur over the course of hours or days.

Call your doctor right away if you notice:

  • Vision problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Inability to control the bladder
  • Difficulty breathing

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