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Although Botox is most often thought of as a cosmetic procedure, it has been used to successfully treat those suffering from chronic migraines for many years. In 2010, Botox became the first FDA-approved preventive chronic migraine treatment, and has since helped over 500,000 people find relief from chronic migraine symptoms. On average, Botox prevents 8 to 9 headache days and migraine (or probable-migraine) days each month.
Chronic migraines are a common yet consistently underdiagnosed health condition in the U.S. Only 25 percent of patients who suffer from chronic migraines receive a proper diagnosis. The team at Allegheny Medical can help you determine whether or not you suffer from chronic migraines, and if Botox is the right course of treatment for you.
To meet the criteria for chronic migraines, migraines must occur at least 15 days per month for three consecutive months.
A chronic migraine must also involve two of the following symptoms for at least eight days per month:
Botox is not recommended for patients who experience fewer than 15 headache days a month.
Botox is the brand name for ‘botulinum toxin,’ which is a neurotoxin produced by the clostridium botulinum bacteria.
This bacteria is purified and administered in very small doses into certain areas of the body, thereby temporarily reducing muscle contractions, as well as blocking pain signals between the nerves and muscles.
Botox is injected around the nerve endings that are responsible for headaches, blocking the release of chemicals that transmit pain signals to the brain. This works to prevent as well as reduce the frequency of chronic migraine headaches.
One Botox treatment lasts for 10 to 12 weeks, and some patients reported that two Botox treatments reduced their number of headache days by approximately 50 percent.
For more information about how botox can help with migraines, read the information on the Botox Chronic Migraine page.
Botox is injected using a small needle into the shallow muscles in the skin in seven different areas of the head and neck. Typically, 31 injections are given in total. The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes to complete.
The very small needle used in Botox injections feels like a pinprick, so there is some minor pain/discomfort. Botox that is mixed with a saline solution can produce a slight burning sensation at the injection site.
A sore neck is the most common side effect after the procedure, which can be relieved with a cool compress. The majority of patients who receive Botox injections for their chronic migraines can return to their normal daily activities the same day.
Patients can expect to see improvement in their chronic migraine symptoms as soon as 4 weeks after the first treatment.
You will continue with treatment every 12 weeks afterwards, unless your doctor recommends a different schedule.
Many insurance plans will cover the cost of Botox treatment for chronic migraines if you have tried and failed to respond successfully to two other treatments, such as anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, or blood pressure medication.
If you are not able to get insurance coverage, the Botox Savings Program can help commercially-insured patients save on out-of-pocket costs for Botox treatment. See if you are eligible for help with out-of-pocket costs.