Botox For Migraines

Botox is the only drug currently FDA approved for the treatment of migraine headaches.  All other medications previously have been used “off-label” (meaning with out the FDA approval).

What Is Botox?

Botox is botulinum toxin A. It is a toxin produced from a bacteria. It is a very powerful toxin that causes weakness and paralysis of muscles. It is seen in food that was not properly canned and could cause severe medical problems for the person who consumed it.

Scientists have known about the toxin for over a 100 years. It was in the late 70s that an ophthalmologist, Dr. Alan Scott, figured out that in small doses the toxin could be used to treat strabismus or spasms of the face.

He sold Botox to Allergan and he discovered how useful the medication was for treating wrinkles.  And in the early 90s cosmetic Botox was introduced and the explosion began.  Coincidentally, after injecting the medication for years doctors started to notice patients with migraines commented they had improvement in their headaches when they got the injections (either for spasms or cosmetic).

This was proven true and approved by the FDA about 3 years ago for the treatment of chronic migraines.

Is Botox Safe?

Botox is safe.  True Botox is the same toxin that causes botulism, but the doses that we use are significantly smaller.  In fact it has been reported that the company that makes Botox, Allergan, can produce enough product to supply the entire world with only a gram of toxin.

What this means is that the doses we use are very small in comparison to what is found in poisoning cases. Botox used properly is a safe and effective drug.

Botox For Migraines

Botox is injected into the neck, back of the head, temples and the forehead when treating for migraines. The FDA approved dose is 155 units given in approximately 33 different locations.

The injections take less then 5 minutes to give, and often last 3 months. Most insurance companies, including medicare, now cover the injections. We will see the patient for an initial evaluation, preform some testing, and then submit the information to the insurance if needed for approval. Often we can do the injections a few days or so after the first visit. Most patients start to get relief about 4-5 days after the injections.

No one really knows why the Botox improves the migraines, this dose and location areas works best.  It is thought that maybe there are micro spasms of the muscles that cause the migraine and the Botox relaxes the muscle enough to help limit their occurrence.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic migraines, call 941-921-5335 for help.

Jody Abrams, MD

Oculoplastics/Neuro-ophthalmology

Sarasota Retina Institute

Sarasota, Florida

 

 

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  1. […] Migraine headaches can be severely debilitating.  A migraine may have a variety of symptoms but includes an intense headache lasting several hours or days and often has associated light and sound sensitivity. […]

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