Migraines are a huge burden on people who suffer from them, not just from crippling pain, but also the stress of never knowing if a migraine is going to crop up and ruin your day. Medication and avoiding potential triggers is often not enough to help people find relief from these frequent and intense headaches. For some, a possible solution to this problem can be Botox, which was approved to treat adults with chronic migraines in 2010.
What Exactly is Botox?
You’re probably familiar with Botox through plastic surgery, but what exactly is it? You may be surprised to learn that it’s actually a neurotoxin, produced by the bacteria that causes botulism. When you eat spoiled food, the catalyst of digestion on the bacteria creates the botulism reaction, which paralyzes the muscles by blocking nerve signals and can be deadly. However, because the form of the toxin that is in Botox is so miniscule and doesn’t come into contact with your digestive system, it’s completely safe. The paralytic effect is what makes it so effective against wrinkles, and migraines.
When used as a migraine treatment, Botox is injected into pain fibers in the head and neck. There, it simply enters the nerve endings where it is injected and blocks the release of chemicals that would signal pain to the brain, blocking the migraines before they even begin.
What is a Botox Treatment Like?
A Botox treatment will typically take around twenty minutes. Using a very small needle that shouldn’t feel like more than a pinprick, your doctor will make shallow injections of Botox into the muscles just under the skin. There will usually be about 31 injections around the head and neck. After the treatment is over, the most common side effect is a sore neck, which can be iced to reduce the discomfort.
These treatments will take place roughly every twelve weeks. Botox is a migraine treatment that gets more effective the more treatments you recieve. After your first session, it may take a few weeks to see results, but you can continue taking any medications you may be on with no risk of drug interaction, and as sessions continue you will experience fewer migraines.
Who Can Get Botox As a Migraine Treatment?
Botox for migraines is only approved by the FDA for adults with chronic migraines. Those who experience less than 14 migraine days a month are not ideal candidates for Botox, and for those under 18, a doctor may be able to prescribe Botox, but it will likely not be covered by insurance.
Will Insurance Cover This Treatment?
Since Botox as a migraine treatment is FDA approved, most insurance plans do cover it. The cost per treatment is usually around $300 to $600. However, in order for your insurance plan to approve Botox treatments, you’ll typically need to have a history of trying at least one or two other treatments and not responding to them. If you’ve tried things like anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, or blood pressure medications and not gotten any relief from them, you might be a good candidate for Botox.
How Can I Find Someone Who Does This Treatment?
After you’ve ensured that this treatment will be covered, finding a doctor who offers Botox as a migraine treatment is usually a question of finding a neurologist or headache specialist. Your insurance company will probably have a list of doctors, or you can search for one online.
Once you’ve found a doctor, feel free to ask them lots of questions about the procedure. Where they learned to do it and how many times they’ve done it before are good places to start, as well as how many injections you’d be receiving and where. You want to make sure you’re getting a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable.
Learn More About Migraines and Clinical Trials at LCCR
If you suffer from migraines, speak to your doctor and see if Botox would be a good treatment option for you. At Lehigh Center for Clinical Research, we’re always pushing forward and looking for the next answer in migraine treatment. If you’re interested in taking part in one of our clinical studies, click here to learn more and enroll.