ProsRelieves muscle tension
Very effective for some migraine sufferers
ConsNot covered by all insurance plans
Has to be repeated
Causes pain and weakness
Too new and untested as treatment for migraines
Full ReviewBotox or botulinum toxin A is a new migraine headache treatment. Millions of people suffer from migraines. On accident it was discovered that people getting Botox injections for cosmetic reasons started to report a decrease in their migraine symptoms. Although it is not specified as a migraine headache treatment doctors are recommending injections as an "off label" use.
Migraine suffers are often desperate. For a lot of people the typical rounds of medications are not effective at decreasing, preventing, or treating debilitating migraines. Botox has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. When presented with the neurologist's opinion that Botox might be the "only hope" for a migraine headache treatment that works, I consented. It is a recommended treatment for people with hard to treat migraines or who would otherwise be relying on narcotic pain medication. Using a small syringe, the doctor puts injections along the forehead, jaw line, temple, base of the skull, down the neck and into the scalene muscles and shoulder. Injections have to be repeated every 3-4 months to be fully effective and cannot be done more frequently because it is toxic to the body. A side effect of Botox injections is pain and redness at the injection site. This usually goes away after several minutes.
Botox is a neurotoxin that paralyzes the muscles however doctors say that isn't a component in it's effectiveness with migraines. It's suspected that Botox blocks the pain messages to the brain. A negative side effect is post-injection muscle weakness. There is no way to predict the outcome of the shifting muscle structure in the neck and shoulders. If there are underlying medical conditions, such as Cervical Dystonia or other muscular problems, the slight paralysis can result in a more complicated medical problem post-injection.
While I was supposed to be a good candidate for Botox injections it was not a positive experience. I had severe muscle weakness and difficulty holding my head up for several days post injection. Because it caused a different kind of pain, I was prescribed yet another medication. After six months and two rounds of injections I refused any further treatment with Botox for migraines. I started to have severe pain in my collarbone and increasing pain in my neck and shoulder. Finally, it was determined that the Botox caused a chronic, debilitating condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Not only did the Botox not help but it caused more problems.
In ClosingTalk to your doctor about all of the potential side effects. I do not personally recommend Botox. I live the pain and desperation of being a migraine sufferer. Try other options before you use Botox for migraines. Investigate your doctor. If he or she is pushing this as the only migraine headache treatment or as the best then get a second or fifth opinion. Doctors are making thousands of dollars on this new yet unapproved treatment. Make sure to get safe treatment if you decide on Botox.
Before considering Botox injections as a migraine headache treatment option it may be prudent to do some research on medical marijuana and migraines and talk to your doctor. Although not a legal migraine treatment option in every state it is something that works quite well for pain, but is not considered very often as a treatment.