Botox and Migraines…what is the connection?
When there is a head, there has to be a headache and a migraine is gradually surfacing as its
prime accomplice; Botox stops muscle contractions by discharging acetylcholine thereby
making headaches history.
In the course of treating wrinkles physicians noticed a surprising extra benefit of the drug:
Some patients whose brows were injected for wrinkles noted that their headaches
disappeared! Based on these findings, further research has been done. In June 2003 at the AHS
Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, the results of a major study on Botox and migraine was
presented. This was the largest scientific study to date. The results showed that 80% of
headache sufferers said that their migraines were less frequent, less severe, or both. About ¾
of these patients had tried many other headache therapies (and that could be good news for
many of us!).
But what's the Botox migraines connection and why does it work? The most obvious
possibility is that muscle tension plays a larger role in migraines than we first thought (much
therapy focuses on blood vessels or neurological chemical factors). And so by relaxing the
muscles, the headaches are not triggered. Botox also seems to cut down on our perception of
pain, so that the headache itself wouldn't bother us as much. It does this by blocking a protein
that carries pain messages to the brain. There is also likely a direct effect on the nerve
innervating those muscles, helping to reduce the incidence of headache triggering. There's lots
of good news when it comes to Botox and migraines. First, it has had a very good safety record
and tends to have many less side effects than other migraine medications. It may be especially
helpful for patients who are taking a great deal of other medications and need to stop.
How is it actually injected? Botox is injected in liquid form under the skin into muscles. The
most recent research suggests a fairly low dose and around 30 injections. The pain relief usually
begins in about 2-3 weeks after the injections. The benefits last for about 10-13 weeks.
Injections should not be given more than about every three months.
Remember, you're in charge of your migraine headache treatment! Find the facts and keep
looking for solutions.