Botox for Migraines: Chronic Migraine Treatment
In Jacksonville, FL
If you suffer from migraine headaches it can seem as if you’ve received a sentence for some sort of medieval torture. A migraine delivers throbbing or pulsing pain, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. They can last from hours to days in some.
One thing that’s common to all migraines — they seriously interfere with your life.
At Jacksonville Eye Center, Dr. Schnipper has begun to offer BOTOX® injections for the treatment of chronic migraine headaches.
What is a migraine?
Migraines are neurological conditions with multiple symptoms. Migraines are characterized by intense, debilitating headaches. They are so strong they can make it difficult to speak. The sufferer is often sensitive to light and sound. Nausea and vomiting are common. Patients often need to lie down in a dark room until the pain passes.
The most common categories of migraines are those without aura and those with aura. An aura involves various disturbances that occur before or during the migraine:
- Visual phenomena (shapes, bright spots, flashes of light)
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face or on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing noises
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
What causes migraines?
The causes of why some people get migraines are not fully understood. It is thought there are genetic and environmental factors involved. Changes in the way the brainstem interacts with the trigeminal nerve are thought to be involved. So are imbalances in brain chemicals.
What is a chronic migraine? How are they different than other migraines?
The frequency is key. Chronic migraine is defined as having 15 or more headache days each month, with migraines occurring on at least 8 of those days, with headaches lasting 4 hours or longer. Chronic migraine is a distinct condition from other types of migraine headaches, as an episodic migraine. Chronic migraines occur more frequently, and the pain is more severe.
What is BOTOX?
BOTOX® is made of the botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria that cause botulism. In the 50s it was discovered that when this neurotoxin is injected into a muscle in a very tiny amount, it temporarily paralyzes the muscle. BOTOX® is well known for its cosmetic treatment of wrinkles. When erasing wrinkles, the injected BOTOX® stops muscles that form wrinkles on the upper third of the face from contracting. BOTOX® blocks the nerve message from getting to the brain, so the muscle is not ordered to contract. Without the contraction, the wrinkle above the muscle doesn’t form.
But before wrinkles, BOTOX® originally was approved for the treatment of involuntary eyelid spasms. When injected it simply stops the spasming muscle from contracting.
Over the years, the FDA has cleared BOTOX® for more and more uses, such as treating hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating), temporomandibular joint disorder, incontinence, and chronic migraines.
How does BOTOX work on chronic migraines?
In 2010, the FDA approved the use of BOTOX® for the treatment of chronic migraines. BOTOX® appears to work better in cases of more frequent migraines. The FDA did not approve BOTOX® for use on non-chronic migraines. This is probably because BOTOX® prevents migraines but doesn’t have an effect once an unexpected migraine happens.
For migraines, BOTOX® is injected around the pain fibers involved in headaches. The BOTOX® enters the nerve endings in the injection area and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. Without these chemicals, pain networks in the brain are not activated.
BOTOX® prevents migraines; it doesn’t address them once they start. It takes time to work. Usually, the second or third treatment session shows the maximum effect. One treatment session lasts from 10-12 weeks.
Who is a good candidate for BOTOX migraine treatment?
If you suffer from chronic migraines, you’re a good candidate for these treatments. This is classified as the person having headaches for 15 or more days each month, with at least 8 of those days being migraine headaches. Each of these headaches should last at least four hours. The FDA has not cleared BOTOX® for the treatment of non-chronic migraines.
What are the benefits of using BOTOX to treat chronic migraines?
- Prevents headaches and migraines before they start, so you’re not having to scramble when you feel onset.
- Has been a proven effective treatment for 10 years (FDA approval was in 2010).
- It is the most popular branded treatment for chronic migraines.
- You don’t have to take oral pain medication.
What is the procedure for receiving BOTOX for chronic migraine Treatment?
Your session with Dr. Schnipper will take just 20 minutes or so. For these injections, Dr. Schnipper uses a very tiny needle that feels like a pinprick. He injects the BOTOX® into shallow muscles in the skin. There will be 31 total injections into seven key areas of your head and neck.
How often will I need BOTOX Injections?
Chronic migraine is a chronic condition that benefits from preventive treatment. Like all preventive treatments, BOTOX® needs to be taken on a schedule. You start with two treatments, 12 weeks apart. Dr. Schnipper and you will then decide how BOTOX® is working for you. It is important to stay on a precise 12-week schedule moving forward, as missing an appointment here or there can allow your chronic migraine to return.
What should I expect after my BOTOX treatment?
Don’t expect BOTOX® to work immediately. For most patients, the first treatment has some effect, but real results come for most patients after the second or third treatment. Research has shown an approximate 50 percent decrease in headache days for patients having BOTOX® treatment for chronic migraines.
Is there recovery after BOTOX for migraine treatment?
No. Patients can get right back to their normal activities.
What are the potential side effects of BOTOX migraine treatments?
BOTOX® has been used around the world hundreds of millions of times to treat wrinkles and other conditions. It has proven remarkably versatile, safe, and effective for all kinds of uses, from wrinkle erasing to eyelid spasm prevention to chronic migraine. Because it uses the botulinum toxin, it has been heavily researched and continues to be. That’s why new uses for BOTOX® are continuing to be discovered. The side effects are usually slight redness and possible pain at the injection sites. You can have some neck pain and stiffness, often accompanied by what has become known as “bobblehead” or “wobbly neck.” This is a partial weakness in those muscles that were injected. Pain in adjacent muscles is thought to come from them taking over the load from the relaxed muscles. If this happens, which isn’t the norm, this usually resolves in a few days.
What results can I expect from having BOTOX for chronic migraine Treatment?
BOTOX® has proven to be quite effective. That’s why in 10 years it has become the most popular chronic migraine treatment. Research has shown that BOTOX® prevents, on average, 8 to 9 headache days and migraine/probable migraine days a month. That’s over a 50 percent decrease in headache days. In its first decade of use in the United States, BOTOX® was injected in 3.3 million sessions treating over 500,000 sufferers from chronic migraines.
Schedule a Consultation
If you’re interested in learning more about Botox for chronic migraines please contact us for a consultation at 904-355-5555 or fill out our contact us form here. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.