Botox has been around for years now as an injection used to soften those deep frown lines that form between the eyebrows and also to reduce the appearance of wrinkles around the mouth and on the forehead. However, it has fairly recently come to the forefront as a way to treat debilitating migraine headaches. Because the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved it for this purpose, most insurance providers will not cover the use of Botox as a cure for migraines. This is despite the fact that one study called “Poison Your Migraine? Botox Injections for Use in Migraine Prevention” has demonstrated its effectiveness for this purpose.
Botox: What Exactly Is It?
Surprisingly, Botox is a toxin. Specifically, it is the neurotoxin that is the cause of an often-fatal food poisoning known as botulism. It has been discovered that there is one particular form of the botulism bacterium that is not absorbed into the blood if it is injected straight into the muscle. Also, when this strain is used for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons, it is extremely diluted so that not enough of the actual bacterium is used to cause someone to become sick.
How Does Botox Work as a Migraine Treatment?
Botox began to be used for smoothing out facial wrinkles when it was discovered that it actually paralyzed the muscles into which it was injected. How did this translate into a cure for a migraine? Researchers discovered that since many people who suffer from migraines also have pain in their shoulders and necks that the migraines were more likely caused by muscle tension rather than by blood vessels in the head that become swollen, as originally thought. An injection of Botox may actually decrease this muscle tension providing relief to the headache or even preventing the chances of getting one.
Are There Any Side Effects?
The fact that the Botox is shot directly into muscle tissues makes side effects few and far between. There is always the chance of some discomfort at the spot of injection for a day or two. A few people may have some drooping around the eyelids, but if the injection is done properly, this is normally not visible.
Is It Worth It?
While studies have shown that Botox injections can decrease the number of migraines as well as reduce their severity, each individual will have to consider the cost of the injections against the possible effectiveness before they decide if the treatment is worth it to them. For some who suffers from frequent migraines, frequent injections may be required. One injection lasts from 10 to 13 weeks.