We’ve all heard of Botox, the ‘secret’ little injectable that smooths out lines and wrinkles in the face. But most people don’t know that Botox can also be a life-saver for people who suffer from chronic migraines and tension headaches.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a throbbing or pulsating headache that is limited to one side of the head (a unilateral headache). They are usually characterized by severe pain and are accompanied by nausea and hypersensitivity to light and sound.
The exact causes of migraines are scientifically unclear, but certain triggers have been recognized that mark the onset of a migraine attack. A migraine is also often preceded by a sensory warning sign. Known as an ‘aura’, this includes flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg.
Three times as many women are affected by migraines than men. Some people may have several migraine attacks in a month, while others will only suffer from a few throughout their whole lives. They occur at any age, but are most likely to begin between the ages of 10 and 40, diminishing after the age of around 50.
What are Chronic Migraines?
Chronic Migraines are defined as migraines that occur more than 15 times in a month.
What is Botox?
Botox is a form of botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria that causes botulism. When the Botox botulinum toxin is purified and used in tiny doses in specific areas, it temporarily reduces muscle contractions for approximately 3 months.
How does Botox Work to Reduce Chronic Migraines?
Botox is injected around pain fibers that are involved in headaches. Botox enters the nerve endings around where it is injected and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. This prevents activation of pain networks in the brain.
Botox prevents migraine headaches before they start, but they take time to work. Patients usually respond best to a series of two or three injections, with major benefits seen after the third treatment.
One treatment lasts for 10-12 weeks, and patients reported that two Botox treatments reduced the number of headache days by approximately 50%.
How is Botox Administered?
Botox injections are performed as an outpatient procedure at the Dayton Orthopedic Surgery, with patients free to leave as soon as the treatment has been administered. Initially, the treating doctor will spend time identifying the individual trigger points, sometimes with the help of a physical therapist, and will mark the areas with a pen. The located areas will then be sterilized and a fast acting local anesthetic will be will injected through a tiny cosmetic needle.
100 units of Botox are usually administered, but this can increase up to 200 units depending on the affected area.
One of the major advantages of Botox is that there is little or no recovery time, and most people feel fine and can return to their normal life immediately.
If you suffer from Chronic Migraines and would like to discuss reducing the impact this debilitating condition can have on your life, call Dayton Orthopedic Surgery at (937) 436-5763.