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Botox for Migraines

1 Apr

Botox has been approved for the prevention of both regular and migraine headaches. Is this treatment right for you?

Headaches vs. Migraines

A migraine is an extreme type of headache which is generally brought on by a dilation of blood vessels in coordination with an imbalance of chemicals that trigger pain throughout the nervous system.

My Experience with Botox and Migraines

I have suffered from migraine headaches for years. They start with my vision getting a little blurry, and then it gets so bad I can’t see. I have to lie down in complete darkness while experiencing the worse pounding pain in my head. I’ve been on multiple drugs for them, which I hate taking. They put me to sleep for a good 24 hours, and then I feel all foggy the next day, in what I like to refer to as a “drug hangover.”

I’ve been doing Botox for the past two years, and I never get migraines anymore, so much to my surprise I had one on Thursday. Sure enough, when I looked in the mirror, I could tell I was overdue for my Botox. Botox is clinically proven to prevent headaches (not just migraines) as well as decrease the intensity of those that do occur. It was approved for the treatment of chronic headaches in October 2010.

The Studies

In all the clinical studies that have been done there has been a statistically significant decrease in the frequency and intensity of headache pain, by at least a 50% decrease in both. These studies are somewhat confusing to read for the average person, so I’ll just make it simple: BOTOX PREVENTS HEADACHES. Statistically proven, and because I say so from personal experienceJ.

The studies state that you need to have two treatments with Botox 3-6 months apart (as soon as the Botox is starting to wear off you have to go in for your second treatment).

Highlights of Studies:

  • It is safe and well tolerated with some great side effects (i.e. looking youthful)
  • Inhibits central sensitization of central trigemino-vascular neurons, which is felt to be an integral piece of the development, progression, and maintenance of the headache associated with migraine
  • Inhibits the release of nociceptive (pain) mediators

Other Options:

  • Pain killers: Yes, these do work. They also come with a handful of side-effects (nausea, addiction, the “drug hangover” the next day—thanks I’ll pass). Not to mention, these can only be taken after the onset of a headache. I’m lucky in the fact I get an “aura” (hazy vision that tells me I’m getting a headache), which not everyone has. Pain is difficult to bring down once it has already started, and once you have taken a pain killer, you are still out of commission for a good 6-12 hours.

  • Caffeine: blocks receptors of adenosine, a nervous system chemical which is responsible for the dilation of blood vessels in the brain. By constricting the blood vessels, the pressure of migraines and headaches is alleviated. Four Espressos usually does the trick for me. Which is what I consumed on Thursday. Thanks Starbucks.
  • Sit in a room with the lights off and a cold compress on your head. Usually necessary even with pain killers and caffeine.
  • Surgery: This is for extreme cases of migraine sufferers, where a part of t brain is removed. This is much scarier than the episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, and if you’re in this category of migraine sufferer’s, then I’m sure you’re already in the hands of a capable neurologist.
  • Marijuana: I feel like I have to add this as an option. Whether or not it’s legal in your state for medicinal purposes is another story… but it does have some evidence supporting a decrease in intracranial pressure, and has been recommended to migraine sufferers by prominent neurologists. I much prefer Botox though. 😉

So, as you can see, Botox treatments are a pretty good option for migraine sufferers. They prevent the onset of headaches, which no other treatment does (besides surgery). It is safe, and non-habit forming (unlike pain killers). It has a great side effect of making you look good. And generally it’s just an awesome medication. BOTOX FOR PRESIDENT. (Ok… I’m at Starbucks, without a migraine, but I still have had four espresso’s and I’m in a silly- but still scientific- mood).

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