“Chronic migraine” is the label given to those who suffer from migraines more than 14 days per month. At my peak, I had 17-20 migraine days per month.
Over the past five years, my neurologist has prescribed heavy duty pain meds for me to use as well as a migraine preventative which decreases the number of migraines I have per month.
As the severity of my migraines increased she had to prescribe increasingly strong meds in order to help me manage the pain. Living life in a fog was not a lot of fun and the meds were becoming increasingly ineffective. Because of this, my neurologist suggested that I might want to try Botox injections. I was shocked out of my mind that this was a treatment for migraine headaches!
Botox for chronic migraine was approved by the FDA in 2010. Injections are used to dull future headache symptoms. They are given at intervals of once every three months. A series of 31 shots are injected into seven specific head and neck locations. A very fine needle is used for the injections, but it still hurts. The Botox stings when it goes in! The whole procedure takes about five minutes and there is no lingering pain. Pretty easy!
It’s not completely understood why Botox works to reduce migraine frequency, and personally, I don’t care because it helps so much!! However, some researchers suspect that Botox prevents certain chemicals from reaching nerve endings, thus reducing migraine pain.
Most migraine sufferers will see results one week after their first injection. The effect of the Botox will peak at around six weeks and then wear off by the end of the three-month time period. The effects of the treatments are cumulative and the longer a person receives Botox injections, the more effective they will be.
A few notes on my experiences with chronic migraine and Botox:
- After my first treatment, I felt immediate relief. Most of my migraines start in my neck and this pain was gone. Completely eradicated. I couldn’t believe it! For days, I kept twisting my head from side to side because I was so amazed by the lack of discomfort.
Three days after my first treatment I woke up to find that my forehead and eyebrows looked WEIRD. I had zero wrinkles, but not in a good way. I had a perpetual look of skepticism/surprise on my face which was pretty horrifying. Good thing I have bangs. After a couple of days, my face relaxed into its normal expression.
- My migraine days dropped from 17-20 per month to about 13 per month. I was delighted!
- I’m on a migraine preventative medication and my neurologist halved my dosage after the Botox. This made me happy because the side effects of this medication are less than desirable. Some of them include: altering the taste of certain foods, taking the fizz out of soda, major appetite suppressant, and decreased cognitive functioning. The cognitive functioning is the worst.Myshort term memory
is horrible, I mix up my words, I can’t spell anymore, and my vocabulary is limited. My middle school students enjoy this because they love correcting me whenever I mix things up…which is a lot!! Basically, this med makes me feel really STUPID.
- Going down to 13 migraine days per month might not sound like much progress, but I am pretty happy with the results. Most of my migraines were less severe which meant that I didn’t have to take quite as many meds to keep the pain at a manageable level. Also, there since research shows that the effects of the Botox are cumulative, I am hopeful that with each treatment my numbers will continue to decrease.
- By the end of my first three-month Botox period, my migraines were back to their normal frequency so I called and asked to go in a week early.
Yesterday, I had my second round of Botox injections and am hopeful for even better results this time around!