Mather Neurology doctors specializes in chronic headaches and have vast experience in administering Botox treatments. Our skilled physicians will discuss the procedure with you in detail and can help you decide if these injections will fit your needs.
Onabotulinum toxin A, or Botox, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for chronic migraine headaches. It is not a cure. Our patients who receive Botox for headaches usually get the treatment about every three months. For some, that is all they need to keep their headaches under control. For others, additional medication or other headache treatment is necessary.
What is Botox?
Botox is a medication that uses a form of botulinum toxin to paralyze muscle activity temporarily. Best known for its ability to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles, Botox also has been shown to help prevent chronic migraine headaches with Mather Neurology patients. It's used mainly for those who have headaches more than 15 days a month. The medication typically is injected into muscles of the forehead, scalp, neck and shoulders.
Why Does Botox Work for Migraine Headaches?
The injected Botox is taken up by pain receptors in the muscles' nerves. The medication then deactivates those pain receptors and blocks pain signals that the nerves send to the brain.
The pain doesn't go away permanently, however. After several months, the nerves sprout new pain fibers, and the headaches tend to return. The Botox effect usually lasts about two-and-a-half months. Because injections are repeated no sooner than every three months, some people need other headache treatment for the last two weeks of a Botox cycle.
How Often Does Mather Neurology Administer Botox for Migraine Headaches?
Providing Botox treatment for headaches every three months is a national standard, as recommended by the American Headache Society. The treatments are not given more often due to a small possibility that, if you receive Botox more frequently, your body might build up antibodies to botulinum toxin. Those antibodies could, in theory, prevent Botox from working with future injections.
For many people, treatment with Botox alone is sufficient to control their chronic headaches. However, some do require other medications in addition to the Botox to prevent migraine attacks. They may include cardiovascular drugs, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, certain antidepressants and some anti-seizure medications, among others. Medications taken at the time of a migraine headache also can be very useful.
What are the Side Affects of Botox Injections?
The most common side effects of Botox injections include swelling or bruising at the injection sites. Uncommonly, the medication may spread into nearby tissues and cause problems such as a drooping eyelid, eyebrows that look out of place, dry eyes or excessive eye tearing. This tends to happen more in people who already have some eye drooping or are more sensitive to botulinum toxin.