You may have heard about using Botox® for reducing wrinkles without the use of surgery.

However, this injectable medication has also gained the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval for the treatment of migraines back in 2010.

Only people who suffer from chronic migraines benefit from this medication.

Before you decide to ask your physician about it, you should understand how the drug works and the risks.

What Is the Medication Botox?

Botox is an injectable medication comprised of a purified form of botulinum toxin type A.

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When injected, this medication prevents nerve activity in the muscles. The injection decreases nerve signals to the muscles or glands, which is how it treats overactive bladder syndrome and reduces wrinkles.

Botox and Botox Cosmetic both contain the same active ingredient. Botox for headaches is a less potent version though because the manufacturer dilutes it.

How Does Botox for Migraines Work?

Researchers are still learning how Botox works as a preventative medication for chronic migraines.

Botox doesn’t treat episodic migraines or tension headaches. Currently, it is only for people who experience chronic migraines more than 15 days per month and last four hours or more in length.

If you want to use Botox for migraines and don’t meet the requirements, you’re still able to receive a prescription, but insurance more than likely won’t cover it.

What Can You Expect During a Botox for Migraines Treatment?

You should only receive the injections by a trained professional because of the serious side effects associated with injecting the drug improperly.

In order to reap the full benefit of Botox, you must have 31 injections given in seven different areas in the neck and head. Dosages are given at least three months apart from one another. Typically, you won’t experience all the benefits if you receive them more than 12 weeks apart.

When you arrive for your appointment, you receive information about Botox and where you’ll receive the injections.

Actually, getting them only feels like small pinpricks. You can expect one session to last about 15 minutes.

It might take time for your body to adjust to Botox. You need to have at least two to three injections given over the course of six to nine months to discover if this type of treatment is right for you.

What Kind of Results Can You Expect from Botox for Migraines?

Botox is only for preventing migraines.

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You can’t use it to stop a current migraine.

According to the creator of Botox, Allergan, you can expect to reduce the number of headache days you have by eight to nine days per month.  You can also expect to suffer from headaches for less time per headache.

It is important to know that botox injections only bring short-term prevention of migraines by temporarily relaxing the muscles of the head and neck. It is always better to determine the cause of the chronic muscle tension and fix that for long-term relief.

The study also showed a difference in the number of headache hours individuals who took Botox had compared to those in the placebo group.

In addition, using Botox for migraines helps reduce other symptoms associated with migraines, such as nausea and vomiting. It also has the potential to reduce any sensitivity to sounds, smells, and lights.

If you still have headache days, you’re able to use a pain relief medication to curb the discomfort while taking Botox for headaches, but you should discuss this with your physician to determine the safest medication for you.

What Are the Side Effects of Botox for Migraines?

Complications from Botox are rare. You might have a site reaction, which could include any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Itchiness

Neck pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of Botox injections. Because botulinum is a toxin that causes a degree of paralysis of the muscles, you might feel your muscles are getting weak in your upper shoulders or neck. These symptoms could make it difficult to hold your head up, but these side effects usually subside in a matter of days.

It’s possible you’ll have a headache after you receive the injection.

Although it’s not common, the toxin in the injection could spread to other areas of your body besides the site of the injection. This could cause you to experience vision changes or drooping eyelids. If the drug spreads to your throat, you might have difficulty swallowing.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Dizziness
  • Tired feeling
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

In rare instances, Botox spreads to other parts of the body and can produce a life-threatening condition.

Who Shouldn’t Take Botox for Migraines?

Botox isn’t for everyone.

Those who have a skin infection at the site where the physician will inject the medication shouldn’t use Botox for migraines.

It’s also not known whether Botox is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Those who have a nerve or muscle-related condition should let their physicians know before using Botox. You should also tell your doctor if you have bleeding, breathing, or swallowing problems. 

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