Got migraines? Botox may help

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Botox may be best known for reducing facial wrinkles. But it is also used for headaches, neck pain, eye muscle problems, excessive sweating, and overactive bladder.

Botox, a neurotoxin protein, is safe and effective in relaxing the muscles of the face, head, and neck, providing a reduction in the symptoms of chronic migraine headaches for three months at a time. The injections enter the nerve endings, blocking the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission to the brain.

According to the International Headache Society, a chronic migraine is a headache that occurs on 15 or more days a month, for more than three months. Migraine sufferers often experience a throbbing or pulsating pain that usually begins on one side of the head. The person also may be sensitive to light, sound, or smell, and experience nausea and/or vomiting.

Approximately 39 million Americans live with migraine, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Women are roughly three times more likely to experience them than men. The Federal Drug Administration approved the use of Botox for chronic migraines in adults in 2010.

Candidates for Botox treatments include people who experience more than 15 “headache days” a month, eight of which are migraines, and who have not had success with at least one prescription medicine. A treatment takes about 15 minutes to complete and involves several injections with a very small needle. A second treatment is given 12 weeks later.

Depending on individual results, treatments may continue every 12 weeks thereafter. Injections may be given in the forehead, temples, and the back of the head and neck. Sometimes the specialist will inject areas called “trigger points” where the headache pain originates.

Headache symptoms typically start to decrease about two weeks after the first treatment. Typical results include a 50 percent decrease in headache severity and headache days after two rounds of Botox treatment.

Botox treatments for migraines are available at Horizon Health’s Paris location, as well as at its Sycamore Pain & Wellness clinic in Terre Haute.