Botox Treatment – Overview
Botox® is the first and only Health Canada approved prescription medicine for treating chronic migraine headaches. Scientific studies and our experience confirm that Botox® injections relieve both the frequency and severity of chronic migraine headaches. Botox® injections are used to prevent headaches in adults (18 or older) with chronic migraines that occur more than 15 days a month, lasting 4 hours or more. On average, Botox prevents eight to nine headache and migraine days a month.
Botox Treatment for Chronic Migraine
Headache, Migraine & Concussion Centre offers Botox® treatment for chronic migraine headaches, a debilitating condition which affects approximately 2.7 million Canadians (or over 8% of the population).
Botox® has been approved for medical use since 2012. If you are over the age of 18 years and have recurring migraine headaches that last at least 4 hours on at least 15 days each month — defined as chronic migraine — you could benefit from preventive Botox® treatment that reduces the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
What Is Botox?
Botox treatment involves injections of one of the forms of botulinum toxin, which is a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and species related to it. In turn, this toxin blocks signal transmission from nerves to muscles, resulting in muscle relaxation.
Botox® has traditionally been used for cosmetic purposes, such as smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it also has several other medical applications, such as treatment of chronic daily headaches and migraines.
How Is a Botox Injection Performed?
A Botox® injection is done in the office and takes the same amount of time as a regular medical visit. For migraine treatment, the doctor will administer 31 Botox® injections in 7 targeted areas of the head and neck muscles, including the nose, nose bridge, forehead, temples, the back of the head, as well as the neck and upper back. These locations are chosen to target the nerves which cause headache pain. In turn, Botox® enters the nerves and blocks pain signals from activation.
The injection process is relatively painless. Some patients describe the sensation as “tiny pinpricks.” If necessary, topical anesthesia can be used at the injection site before Botox® is administered.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With Botox® Injections?
Botox® injections can be used to treat chronic migraine headaches, neck spasms (cervical dystonia), overactive bladder, excessive sweating, uncontrollable blinking, and lazy eye. We offer Botox® treatments to our patients who experience chronic migraines.
This condition is defined as having at least 15 headache days each month, at least eight of which include features specific to migraines, such as sensory sensitivities, nausea, or vomiting.
According to research published in the journal Neurology, only about one in three migraine patients takes advantage of preventive treatments despite the efficacy of this type of therapy.
How Effective Is Botox Treatment for Chronic Migraine?
On average, Botox® injection therapy for migraines can eliminate up to 9 or more headache days each month. The results last up to 12 weeks before another round of treatment is required. Since the effects of the treatment can develop gradually, some patients may not experience the optimal reduction in headaches until after 2 or 3 appointments.
In a clinical trial published in Johns Hopkins Advanced Studies in Medicine, patients reported 50% fewer headaches after 2 Botox® treatments. However, many patients experience relief within 5 to 14 days.
Botox® treatment helps to decrease the severity of migraine symptoms such as pain, light and sound sensitivity, and nausea and vomiting. It can also reduce the number of headaches you experience each month.
In most cases, Botox® can safely be used with other headache medications, including those taken to relieve pain or reduce symptoms at the onset of a headache. Preventive treatments can be effective in reducing the incidence of headaches exacerbated by overuse of pain medication. Patients who have fewer than 15 headache days each month are not eligible for Botox® treatment.
When performed by an experienced physician, Botox® injections are a safe way to treat chronic headaches. Potential side effects of this treatment may include pain or swelling at the injection site and flu-like symptoms. However, these side effects are rare, and most experts agree that this is a risk-free way to treat chronic migraine pain. Soreness after the procedure can be treated with an ice application to the affected area.
If you experience chronic migraine headaches, you can contact our experts at Headache, Migraine and Concussion Centre for a consultation. Our doctors will develop a thorough treatment plan to help relieve your painful symptoms to improve your quality of life.
We can help determine the cause of your headaches and identify underlying conditions that may contribute to chronic migraines. Call us to schedule your appointment at 905-477-4677.