Botox for Migraine??

“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.

Here I am getting Botox injections in my neck.

Here I am getting Botox injections in my neck.

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!

Botox injection sites

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.
  • On the left: my freaky post-Botox forehead. On the right- same day, thank goodness for bangs!

    On the left: my freaky post-Botox forehead. On the right- same day, thank goodness for bangs!

    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

    Topamax makes me feel stupid. I hate taking it. Hopefully with more Botox treatments I can go off of it completely and I’ll be smart again!!

    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!

31 thoughts on “Botox for Migraine??

  1. Good luck with it Adrienne. I do hope it works. I don’t know how people with migraines can function, its such a debilitating disease and for women with hormones its so awful. My boss had them so much she was always “down for the count” until after menopause. Cruel thing! My fingers are dotted and crossed for you!

    • Thanks! I hope they completely go away someday. The worst part? It seems to be genetic. My mom had them and now one of my daughters is getting them. Hopefully treatments will continue to advance. I hope school is going well for you!!

      • Aww. My bestfriend has it but I don’t think she experiences it as much as you do in days. Thanks also. School is going well but I’m having a hard time blogging.

  2. My mom suffers from chronic migraines and although they seem to be lessening as she gets older, she spent so much time laying down with her eyes covered in a quiet room. My own migraines have been due to different circumstances and not nearly as severe as what I’m sure you go through. I can’t imagine feeling that much pain over half of the month! I hope the Botox injects are successful and you can gain more of your life back!! I’m going to mention this treatment to my neighbor because she has struggled for years with migraines.

  3. You poor thing, suffering from such debilitating migraines! What a relief to have something (finally) that makes a difference for you. I am happy that it’s working and am hopeful that it will work even more after your subsequent injections!

    I had motility issues in my esophagus where I was having spasms and could not swallow well and one of the treatments recommended was botox injections into my esophagus. I got freaked out by the thought of it. Luckily, it turned out to be a side effect of a medication and the problem went away as soon as I stopped taking the med. Phew! 🙂

    • I’m glad your situation worked out!! I was also totally freaked out when my doctor recommended Botox. I thought she was a little nuts. That’s kind of why I wrote a post about it so other people will know that it is a viable treatment option for migraines. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  4. SO glad you’re feeling better and so glad your wrote about this–I have three close friends who suffer from migraines, and will pass this along. Thanks too, for the photos as that helps with processing the idea! How exciting to finally have good results without being drugged up!

    • Good! I’m glad you’ll be sharing this with your friends. I hope this will help them! This is exactly why I wanted to write this post so that other people would know that this is available. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  5. God bless! I used to know someone who’s Dr prescribed some type of ergot compound for his migraines. I used to get similar ones, clusters many years ago until I started taking something for my heart in which the cardio-vascular effect just about completely wiped out all my bad headaches so win-win!

  6. Thank you for writing this Adrienne. I seem to be either having a migraine or migraine hangover. I cannot tolerate any noise. I’ve been to two neurologists but they were more concerned with other things.
    I have heard of Botox migraine shots, but have been a little worried about trying it: the expense, is it dangerous? I’m pretty sure it will hurt, but then it is over with, and perhaps life would be rosy or at least normal. I don’t know where to start to look. But since reading this, you have given me hope. I don’t know how you teach a class with the fuzzy making medication! Plus your post are always so well written. Congratulations, you are amazing. People make such a fuss about so called ‘achievements’ but what you’re are accomplishing is incredible indeed.

    • Thanks! You are so sweet! 🙂 I’m sorry to hear that you have migraines too. They are a game changer when it comes to quality of life. I have always kept a migraine calendar noting which days I had migraines, which meds I took, and the severity of the migraine. This helped my neurologist push the Botox paperwork through the insurance company so it was approved and I didn’t have to pay. Good luck to you.

  7. Im really sorry to hear about your migranes, it sounds like a serious challenge, to say the least, but I’m also glad that you found some relief, even limited! I had the same cognitive trouble with pain meds for fibro, but I was able to get off those meds by getting cortisone injections instead – what a relief that has been, I had no idea it was the meds screwing up my short term memory! Blessings to you, dearheart! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  8. Do you think that acu-puncture would have the same effect?

    I don’t really support pain meds, but also being a migraine sufferer, I do understand that they are sometimes necessary and unavoidable.

    I would advise (not medical advice, but still) to increase your water uptake and to be careful of rebound migraines. I know it sounds ridiculously basic, but my husband kept nagging me and it made a huge difference!

    • I’ll have to read up on migraine rebounds. I do try to push the water, but could do better. The Botox worked wonders the first time, but now seems to nothing…3rd series. I’m going to have dry needling done in November on my neck and shoulders. Perhaps that will help!

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