The US FDA approved botox as a treatment for migraines on 15 October 2010. Botox is used in cosmetic surgery to reduce or eliminate fine lines and wrinkles in the skin (known clinically as “hyperfunctional facial lines”. The idea of using botox for treating migraine headaches came about when researchers accidentally discovered that injectng botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) into the upper portion of the face has the potential to reduce the incidence of migraine for up to six months.
This is particularly valuable for adult patients with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine is defined as having a history of migraine and experiencing a headache on most days of the month.
Botulinum toxin type A (BoNTA; Botox) is a neurotoxin that is cultured from the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum, an organism foundinsoil and water. Once cultured, the toxin is sterilized and vacuum-dried. It is mixed with saline and injected with a fine needle just under the skin. The toxin causes short-term muscle paralysis in the area it is injected into, and may have some impact on the nerve fibers. This could explain its usefulness in short-term migraine prevention.
To treat chronic migraines, Botox is given approximately every 12 weeks as multiple injections around the head and neck to try to dull future headache symptoms. Botox has not been shown to work for the treatment of migraine headaches that occur 14 days or less per month, or for other forms of headache. It is important that patients discuss with their physician whether Botox is appropriate for them.
Botox has few side effects when administered in proper doses by a health care professional. However, in a user review of botox for migraine, some patients have reported to experience headache and neck pain from the migraine botox injections. In addition, the area surrounding the injection site can become weak if the toxin spreads. Although this is the desired therapeutic effect of the drug, it can be a problem if it spreads to the eyes causing drooping, throat causing difficulty swallowing or breathing, or other unintended areas.
Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox, issues a warning on the potential side effects to patients who wish to use botox for their migraine. Before your botox treatment for migraines, be sure to discuss with your doctor to fully understand the benefits and potential risks of this migraine treatment.