botox migraines

Five Things You Need to Know Before Getting Botox for Migraines

Five Things You Need to Know Before Getting Botox for Migraines

Until 2010 Botox was only known for its use in cosmetic beauty treatments. It is used to smooth out wrinkles and give a youthful and exuberant appearance to the skin. After 2010, doctors got the nod from FDA to use Botox treatments for medical conditions, especially chronic migraine. Since then, more and more people are accepting Botox treatments to ameliorate their migraines. How Botox works to alleviate throbbing migraines is a subject of scientific study to date, and it remains a mystery yet to be unraveled. However, it is presumed that Botox works by blocking certain chemicals from reaching nerve endings that cause migraines. Though it remains unknown how it works, its effectiveness is not in doubt. And that is why you should consider the treatment if you have a terrible migraine. But before you make the leap of faith to undergo the Botox treatment, there is a host of things you need to understand:

Availability of Botox Treatments on Insurance

There are many insurance providers who cover Botox injections for chronic migraines. However, you should first confirm with your individual insurance company if they cover Botox injections for a migraine, and hope that they do – because if they don’t, the cost for Botox injections can be prohibitively high, running into thousands of dollars.

Further, Botox treatments are not suitable for everybody. Therefore, insurance companies will need evidence that other treatments are not effective before they can accept to cover Botox injections. Therefore, the first stop when gauging the feasibility of undertaking a Botox treatment is your insurance provider.

Side Effects

If the Botox treatment is performed by a qualified and experienced doctor, then it is likely safe, and you might not experience any serious side effects save for mild ones. Reportedly, nine percent of Botox patients experience temporary neck pain and 5 percent experience post-procedure migraine. The other side effects one might experience include injection-site pain, temporary swelling, upset stomach, drooping eyelids, and redness. In very rare cases, the Botox may spread through the body and the patient may start exhibiting botulism symptoms. For that reason, breastfeeding or pregnant women should give the procedure a wide berth. It is worth noting that for a majority of people, Botox has fewer side effects than most commonly used drug therapies.

Ensure you have the Botox treatment from a physician who is seasoned in migraine treatments. Just because a doctor or clinic administers Botox for cosmetic purposes doesn’t mean they know how to deliver the right injection sites for migraine treatment.

What the Treatment Involves

The entire treatment of Botox needs a series of small injections to specific areas of the head, shoulders, and neck. Migraine patients get a total of 31 injections. Each injection feels like a little prick, and some people confess like that the injections feel like minor bee stings, and those at the forehead feel the most uncomfortable. There are 31 potential injection areas around the head- for example, the forehead, temples, bridge of the nose, back of the head, and the neck. Every treatment session takes around 15 minutes, and the treatments are repeated every three months.


Can Botox Treat Other Conditions?

The FDA approved Botox for a variety of medical conditions, including, correction of cross eyes, controlling twitches around the eyes and muscles spasms, helping to alleviate severe spasms in neck muscles (cervical dystonia), alleviating bruxism (teeth grinding), and reducing bladder activity. The list isn’t exhaustive. There are very many conditions that Botox injections can help alleviate.

It is important to note that Botox isn’t appropriate for all kinds of a migraine. There is a host of trials conducted that show Botox treatment is only effective for those people with a chronic migraine. (It should be remembered, though, there are other more effective treatments for chronic migraines other than Botox. For example, prednisone and amitriptyline do a better job).

A recent survey showed that Botox couldn’t be of great help to people suffering from an episodic migraine. An episodic migraine means a migraine happens fewer than fifteen times each month. Also, it was discovered that the treatment is not of help to people suffering from episodic headaches.

As physicians have pointed out before, while Botox treatment can reduce the number of episodes per month in migraine victims, it is only a palliative measure and doesn’t completely and cure a migraine itself. That is why you’d need to keep going for the procedure after every three months.

How Does Botox Work?

As already indicated, the working mechanism of Botox is still a mystery that the scientific community is arduously working day and night to unravel. The drug is a toxin called OnabotulinumtoxinA, and it is commonly referred to as Botox-A. It is produced by bacteria and is a neurotoxic protein that can destroy nerve tissues. If injected, it blocks muscle and nerve activity, and that effect can stand for three months or a little more.

Migraine sufferers can take several doses of Botox treatment before they can start realizing that the drug is helping them. It is not a quick fix and, therefore, can take as many as nine months, or three courses, before patients start experiencing any improvement.

But this sometimes depends on the individual victims. For some people, the results will manifest much faster and may be experienced just after the first round of injections. For some people, they’ll have to wait to complete three courses before they can start experiencing any real effect from the Botox treatment.


If you do not note any change after the third round, which is usually in the ninth month, then most likely the Botox treatment is not appropriate for you, and the physician shouldn’t offer you any more Botox treatments.

Patients can feel significant improvement if the Botox treatment is effective for them. Many patients report that they had far fewer migraine attacks per month, quicker recovery after a bout of a migraine, as well as the reduced severity of the attacks. However, most of them realize that they have to continue going back for Botox injections after every three months as it doesn’t offer a complete cure for migraines.


Consider the outlined five facts before you make the decision whether to go for a Botox injection for a migraine or not.