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Botox for Migraine Headache

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox as a cosmetic treatment for wrinkles in 2002, it had been used for more than a decade to treat other muscle conditions. In 2000, it was discovered that Botox could also serve as a temporary treatment for a condition that ails approximately 28 million Americans: Migraine headaches, headaches that can be so severe that sufferers often describe them as blinding or paralyzing.

In studies, it has been found that 80 percent of migraine patients who underwent Botox injections experienced migraine relief for four to six months, suffering fewer and less intense migraines over that time period. Studies also found that patients injected at various sites - the brow, eyes, forehead, side of neck and back of the head near the neck - sometimes experienced immediate relief from migraines.

Doctors believe that the mechanism behind the Botox migraine relief is that, in addition to relaxing muscles, the drug may interfere with the transmission of nerve pain signals.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved Botox for treatment of blepharospasm (eyelid spasm), strabismus (crossed eyes), cervical dystonia (painful neck spasms) and wrinkles between the eyebrows. Because the FDA has not yet approved Botox for the treatment of migraines, researchers continue to do studies verifying the accuracy of the findings. Last summer, a lead researcher from Kaiser Permanente in San Diego revealed results of the largest study to date on the effects of Botox on migraines. The study, presented at the 45 th annual meeting of the American Headache Society, revealed that of the 271 migraine sufferers studied, 75 percent of whom had tried other therapies without success, 60.5 percent experienced good to excellent pain relief after receiving the Botox injections.

Compared to other treatments for migraines, which often produce side effects like upset stomach, weight gain and drowsiness, 95 percent of the patients studied did not experience any side effects from the Botox treatment.

One possible downside to using Botox to treat migraines is the cost. Oral medications prescribed to treat migraines, such as Imitrex, as well as nasal sprays, are more cost-effective options when compared to Botox. One session of Botox can cost a minimum of $350 per targeted area - a cost not covered by insurance. However, the effects of Botox for the treatment of migraines can last up to six months. Frequent migraine sufferers may weigh the cost against the price of pain that exists during a migraine attack.

For more information on botox for migraines, contact an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon.