Pain Management Q&A by Dr. Helm

I suffer from migraine headaches, and my doctor referred me to a pain management specialist for Botox injections. How does Botox help migraine headaches?

Answer:

Botox can prevent migraine headaches. This was first noted by a plastic surgeon who was using it to treat wrinkles and found that his patients told him they had fewer headaches. Botox is currently being extensively studied as a preventive medication for a variety of headaches, including in migraine sufferers with chronic daily headache (meaning having headaches more than 16 days out of the month), with the early data showing that it is effective in reducing the number of headaches in these people.

The medicine is injected into specific areas in the front and side of the head. Botox has not yet been approved for this use, although the studies being carried out are designed to be suitable for FDA approval. The mechanism of action by which Botox prevents headaches is unknown. It may work by directly affecting the muscles being injected, or it may be transported to and act in other sites in the body, such as the brain.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 11/17/2006



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