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What Type of Headache Responds Best to Botox?

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What Type of Headache Responds Best to Botox?

Botox is one of the most popular solutions for treating aging faces, but many are unaware that this substance can be used to treat serious medical conditions as well. Patients suffering from muscle spasms, an overactive bladder, or excessive sweating can benefit from regular Botox injections. Botox also works well on certain types of headaches.

So which type of headache can Botox injections treat best? Botox is an FDA-approved solution for chronic migraines. Chronic migraine is defined as a headache that occurs on 15 or more days in one month, accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and dizziness.

The Science of Botox as Migraine Treatment

Botox was approved in 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration for treating adult patients with chronic migraines. Aside from smoothing out wrinkles, treating chronic migraines is one of the most common uses of Botox.

What Is a Chronic Migraine?

A migraine is a severe form of headache. While headaches produce temporary discomfort inside the head, migraines are much more intense. Aside from the ache, a migraine may also come with vomiting, extreme fatigue, nausea, “seeing spots”, sensitivity to light and sound, and other symptoms.

Chronic migraines are severe headaches that occur more than 15 days in a month, for more than three months. Over 4 million people in the US experience chronic migraines and this debilitating condition prevents them from working or functioning normally.

How Botox Works

Multiple studies have found that Botox can decrease the frequency of chronic migraines by around 50% with minimal side effects. Research is currently being done to understand why Botox works so well on migraines.

Botox is a neurotoxin made from a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. When encountered in the natural world, this bacteria may cause botulism, a dangerous paralysis affecting your nerves and muscles if ingested accidentally. In small, controlled doses botulinum toxin is a safe and effective way to smooth out facial lines and wrinkles.

When Botox is injected into the body, it blocks the signals between the nerves and muscles. The working theory is that Botox can also paralyze the nerve endings producing pain substances during a chronic migraine episode. When Botox interrupts these pain signals, patients stop feeling the headache and their affected muscles will relax.

Botox used for chronic migraines is exactly the same as the Botox used for cosmetic procedures. In fact, this is how doctors discovered the potential of Botox as a pain-relieving migraine treatment.

When young and middle-aged women received Botox injections for aesthetic purposes, they noticed that their headaches improved significantly. As 85% of chronic migraine patients are women, this observation was no small coincidence and more physicians were prompted to study the effects of Botox on migraines and headaches.

What an Average Procedure Is Like

An average Botox appointment for chronic migraine treatment will last around 20 minutes. During this time, your provider will inject 30 to 40 shots of Botox around your head and neck using a small needle. Each injection will feel like a pinprick to the shallow muscles in your skin.

You can expect to get an equal number of shots on each side of your head. If you experience more pain in a specific area, you can expect to receive additional shots there as well. The results of the treatment can be experienced around 2 – 3 weeks after, if not earlier. Downtime is not necessary unless a patient experiences pain immediately after the session.

As Botox is slow to metabolize in the body, the effects will last up to three months. Patients are also discouraged from getting Botox injections too frequently because the body might develop a resistance to the treatment.

Although Botox is considered an effective solution to reduce migraine frequency and severity, it cannot change the underlying condition. Each patient needs to manage their symptoms by practicing a healthy lifestyle, avoiding migraine triggers, and using the prescribed medications as needed.

FAQs On Botox and Migraines

Curious patients tend to have many questions about this Botox procedure and how it can help treat migraines. Some common questions regarding the Botox migraine treatment include:

Q: What is the difference between migraines and other headaches? 

A: A migraine is a neurological disease that affects nerve endings, pathways, and chemicals. This medical condition expresses itself through intense headaches, nausea, extreme fatigue, dizziness, and extreme sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. Unlike a headache that only causes mild discomfort and disappears after some time, a migraine attack may last for days.

Q: What are the potential side effects of Botox for migraine treatment?

A: Botox side effects are very mild. The most common one is a sore neck which can be treated using an ice pack. In other cases, patients may experience some pain from the shots or even a slight headache. Severe side effects like drooping eyes are very rare.

Q: What other medical conditions can Botox treat?

A: Botox is FDA-approved to treat medical conditions like severe neck spasms, crossed-eyes, excessive sweating, and an overactive bladder. Patients should only get treatment for these medical issues from a qualified physician trained to give medical Botox rather than cosmetic Botox.

Have a Safe Botox Treatment at Anand Medical Spa

Consultation for Botox

Patients should find a board-certified doctor to perform the procedure and ensure that each Botox injection is administered correctly.

At Anand Medical Spa, Dr. Sunanda Chugh handles patients undergoing any Botox treatment. Dr. Chugh is a board-certified physician and a member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine and has been practicing in New York City since 2004. Schedule an initial consultation with her at Anand Medical Spa today.

Read more: How Can I Make My Botox Last Longer?

About the Author:

Dr. Sunanda Chugh is the Founder and Medical Director of Anand Medical Spa and has been practicing in NYC since 2004. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has completed her training at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital/Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chugh has worked and trained with top Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists in NYC. Her special interest on the effect of the aging process on the face and body inspired her to specialize in Aesthetic Medicine.

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