Can Botox Cure Migraines?

  • Medical Author:
    Standiford Helm II, MD

    Dr. Helm has been practicing interventional pain management since 1982. Dr. Helm is a diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesiology with subspecialty certification in Pain Medicine and of the American Board of Pain Medicine. Dr. Helm is a Fellow of Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP), the only certifying agency which tests the ability to perform interventional pain procedures. Dr. Helm is also an examiner for FIPP.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Last Editorial Review: 6/13/2017

Ask the experts

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

Doctor's response

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.

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Last Editorial Review: 6/13/2017
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Preventive treatment of migraine in adults"