Home > Prevention > Does Botox Help Cure Headaches?

Does Botox Help Cure Headaches?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 21 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Botox Botulinum Toxin Location Headaches

Taking a substance used in the plastic surgery industry and suggesting it be used for headaches is probably one of the fastest and easiest ways to stir up controversy. Botulinum toxin A also called Botox, comes from the same group of bacteria that cause tetanus.

What is Botox?

You may already be familiar with the term 'tetanus' if you have ever received a tetanus vaccination. A purified protein, Botox is thought to relieve tensed muscles through its blockage of the nerve signals that cause muscle tension and contractions. Botox halts the conduction of nerve impulses and temporarily results in muscle paralysis. More recently, Botox has been found to subdue and prevent the pain associated with headaches and migraines.

Based on a recent large-scale study, Botox is cited as an effective treatment for headaches and migraines. More than three quarters of patients in the study said that following Botox treatment, headache pain was reduced in frequency, intensity or both. The study involved patients who suffered from migraines as well as generalized head pain. Many of the subjects had tried other treatments, and these had not been successful. More than half had also stated that medications were being overused. With medication overuse causing rebound headaches, the quest for an effective headache treatment that maintains efficacy and does not cause withdrawal headaches is important for sufferers.

How is Botox Taken?

A doctor will inject Botox under an individual's skin and into the muscle. Botox is given in a liquid form and a person will typically receive anywhere from ten to twenty-five injections to the head, neck and shoulder area. Treatments are not usually painful to receive and feel like a sharp prick.

The mechanism of head pain relief is not entirely understood. In a migraine, it is thought that Botox stops the proteins involved in pain transmission to the brain. Overall, scientists suggest that Botox somehow alters the nerves that transmit pain messages to the brain as well as providing relaxation to muscles. This means that the nerves are not as sensitive to pain.

Botox also has been found to cause fewer side effects than many other pharmaceutical treatments currently on the market for headache and migraine relief. Side effects that have been indicated are drooping of the eyelid or eyebrow, neck muscle weakness and head pain. According to recent studies, however, these side effects are still quite uncommon. Relief usually requires approximately two to three weeks to take effect following administration of Botox via injection. It is thought that the more time that elapses during which a patient receives treatment, the more effective the head pain relief.

Is Botex Safe?

Depending on your geographic location, Botox may not be approved specifically for headache and migraine treatment. This does not, however, mean that a doctor can't still administer it regardless. It is a legal and common albeit controversial practice for a doctor to prescribe a drug to treat a different condition than the one it is intended for.

Any questions you have about potentially using Botox to treat your headaches and migraines must be discussed with your doctor. Research thus far looks promising and hopefully, ongoing and new studies can provide more information about the positive uses for Botox in treating head pain.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopfully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Mumof3
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    I have pins and needles beneath my feet, it has been there for three days now- and hasn't gone away.…
    25 March 2017
  • Ms. Haider
    Re: Headaches and Eyesight
    I wear soft contact lenses in the day time and take them out only when I'm ready to sleep. Even then if the contacts are out and I close…
    12 March 2017
  • Stassie
    Re: Migraine Classification
    My daughter has been diagnosed with migraine as she has most of the symptoms, so her neurologist said it was a classic one; He prescribed…
    10 March 2017
  • Alexandra
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I had hit ny head on a table and got a headache and it was getting worse so i went home, in the car i had passes out and my mom…
    10 March 2017
  • Alleycat
    Re: Headaches During The Night
    I have started walking with a headache about an hour after falling asleep.This happens at night or if I am sleeping during the day.…
    10 March 2017
  • Jad
    Re: Headaches and Iron Deficiency
    For the last year I've been getting shooting pains up and down the left side of my head which was diagnosed as trigeminal…
    8 March 2017
  • Stassie
    Re: Headaches Caused by Tensions and Stress
    Hi, My daughter, 16, has been diagnosed with having tension headaches, (via CAT scan and MRI) when she was 11. Since…
    7 March 2017
  • DUNK
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have suffered severe eye, scalp, jaw pain for 5 years. The pain has been so bad I have thought about suicide more than once. The…
    6 March 2017
  • "common-cold antenna
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I've had this pain on my scalp in approximately the same area for a long time ( about 26yrs ). It happens just before I get a bout…
    26 February 2017
  • Julie
    Re: What is the Headache Impact Test?
    I wake up with severe headaches in the middle of the night. What do i do to stop it
    12 February 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HeadacheExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.