If you’re among the estimated 39 million Americans with migraines and 1 billion migraine sufferers worldwide, you’re all too aware of how much of a life interrupter this common neurological condition can be.
With the severe throbbing head pain often accompanied by sound and light sensitivity and nausea, migraines can hijack what would ordinarily be an enjoyable day. When you live with migraines, you’re not only seeking relief from symptoms, but also trying to find ways to reduce future migraine attacks.
Did you know that Botox® may help? Here, the pain management team at Cardio Metabolic Institute explains how this familiar cosmetic injectable that’s used to smooth out wrinkles could also prevent migraines from putting a crimp in your day.
How Botox works
A great place to start this topic is to explain what Botox is in the first place and how it works. Botox is a prescription medicine made from the protein of Botulinum toxin type A, which comes from bacterium Clostridium botulinum, the poison that causes botulism.
Since 2002, when the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox Cosmetic for the treatment of moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows, providers have used low, safe doses of Botox to smooth out wrinkles. When providers administer a Botox injection, the active ingredient swings into action by relaxing muscles and blocking nerve impulses in the treatment area.
While the characteristic muscle-relaxing quality is optimal for smoothing out facial wrinkles, its nerve-blocking abilities make it an ideal treatment option for other conditions such as chronic migraines and TMJ disorders.
Chronic migraine explained
When it comes to migraines, many people think of episodic migraines, when migraines happen every so often. While episodic and chronic migraine share the same symptoms, chronic migraine typically lasts longer or happens more frequently.
A doctor diagnoses a patient with chronic migraine if they have 15 or more episodes each month for at least three months. About 148 million people throughout the world suffer from chronic migraines. In the United States, about 3%-5% of the general population has chronic migraines.
FDA-approved for chronic migraine
In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a prophylactic treatment for chronic migraines to reduce headache frequency and the severity of symptoms.
To understand how Botox helps with chronic migraines, it’s useful to know the mechanics of a migraine. During a migraine episode, biochemical reactions occur within your body. Specifically, the body releases chemicals called neurotransmitters as well as molecules that are connected with the sensation of pain.
Botox stops the transmission of these chemicals in their tracks where the nerves and muscles come together. Blocking the neurotransmitters interrupts the sensation of pain that travels between the brain and the nerves in the spinal cord.
Migraine treatment with Botox
If you’ve had Botox injections for cosmetic purposes, you probably know that it can take several days to see the full effect. Similarly with chronic migraine treatment, it may take several weeks or a series of injections before getting optimal relief from your symptoms.
During a treatment session, your provider uses a small needle to inject Botox into muscles around your forehead, temples, face, and the back of your head. Treatment can be highly personalized. For instance, if your headache pain tends to originate from a certain area, your provider may focus on these trigger point areas during treatment.
If you suffer from migraines and want to learn if Botox could help you, contact Cardio Metabolic Institute by calling the location near you — in East Brunswick, Edison, Somerset, or Monroe Township, New Jersey — or make your appointment online today. Our pain management team is committed to helping you feel more like yourself again.