FDA Approves Botox for Migraine Treatments

by Trudi Schrieber

botox migraines

If you suffer from chronic migraines, you know how painful and frustrating that intense pulsing or throbbing feeling in your head can be. Often made worse by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound, migraines can be downright debilitating. Chronic migraine sufferers are those who experience these symptoms more than 14 days per month. That’s a lot of time spent in pain, and can certainly disrupt work, social, and family lives. Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines, which have been linked to both depression and anxiety.

The options for treating chronic migraine headaches have been somewhat limited, and some chronic migraine sufferers have not responded to previously available treatments. There is potential good news, however, as the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now approved Botox injections (OnabotulinumtoxinA) for the treatment of chronic migraines.

How well do patients respond to Botox migraine treatments?

Allergan, Inc., the makers of Botox, funded two studies involving over 1300 adults in 122 study sites across Europe and North America. After six months, patients experienced 7.8 and 9.2 fewer days of migraine than they had before the study. Patients who received injections of placebo during the study reported experiencing 6.4 and 6.9 fewer headache days per month.

How does it work?

We’ve all heard of Botox, but we tend to think of it as a cosmetic treatment used to smooth out wrinkles, scars, and other irregularities in the face. Those seeking Botox to treat chronic migraines will receive similar treatment, but the target areas are different. For chronic migraine sufferers, Botox injections are administered every 12 weeks around the head and the neck. The injections work in these areas to dull future migraine symptoms. The FDA said in a statement that Botox has not proven effective in treating migraine headaches that occur less than 14 days per month, or for other forms of headache. Botox should only be used for patients experiencing chronic symptoms.

What are the side effects of Botox for chronic migraine?

Botox does have warnings including possible spreading of the effects of the botulinum toxin from the area of injection to other areas of the body, which could cause symptoms similar to those of botulism. Symptoms of botulism include swallowing and breathing difficulties that can be life-threatening. No serious cases of the spread of toxin effects during Botox’s use to treat chronic migraines, , severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm, or strabismus, or when Botox Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose to improve frown lines have been confirmed. Under 1 percent of patients using Botox for chronic migraine treatment during the Allergan studies had to be hospitalized for increased pain.

Are Botox migraine treatments covered by insurance?

Since the FDA has approved Botox as a treatment for chronic migraines, it is likely that insurance companies may soon cover the cost of this treatment.

How can I learn more about Botox for chronic migraine?

If you are interested in pursuing Botox as a treatment for chronic migraine, contact Healthy Skin Portal. We can connect you with a licensed Botox specialist in your area to help you determine if the treatment might be right for you.

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