Headache Treatments with Botox

Botox Cosmetic® is one of the most diverse and versatile products on the market today

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Over 5 million Botox® injections are performed each year

What is Botox? /

Botox Cosmetic® is one of the most diverse and versatile products on the market today. In fact, it is so popular in North America that it is estimated that over 5 million Botox® injections are performed each year.

Much of this boost in sales is due to the safe, effective track record that Botox has for erasing facial lines, furrows, and wrinkles. Although Botox is one of the most well-researched medications on the market in Canada and has been used for over 20 years to treat medical conditions, its regenesis as a powerful, youth serum has made it a household name for men and women who want to smooth away the signs of aging. As a result, most people are familiar with the benefits of using Botox for cosmetic purposes, but are unaware that Botox can also be used to treat common medical problems such as excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and migraine headaches.

How does Botox work?

BOTOX Cosmetic® is a purified protein also called botulinum toxin type A, that targets and temporarily blocks nerve signals from communicating to muscles. Its first use, during the 1970s and 1980s, was for eye concerns such as squinting, crossed eyes and eye spasms. Medical applications for the product have since expanded to involve dystonia (including writer’s cramp), muscle spasticity after stroke or neurodegenerative disease related muscle contractures. In addition, many studies have been done to evaluate the toxin’s usefulness for nerve and muscle related ailments, including headache treatment. While other botulinum toxin products exist, including Dysport and Xeomin, their effectiveness in treating headache disorders has not been proven.

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Can Botox Help with headaches? /

Botox®, onabotulinum toxin A, was specifically approved for treatment of chronic migraine in July 2010 by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

However, clinical trials have not yet proven its efficacy in treating episodic migraines, tension headaches or cluster headaches. The following evidence indicates the effectiveness of botulinum toxin as a headache treatment. In the 1990s, people who were being treated with Botox for unrelated reasons began to report a reduction in their headache symptoms. Initial clinical studies were very disappointing because no benefit could be demonstrated compared with a placebo for episodic migraine, tension headaches or undifferentiated chronic headache. Only the patients with the subgroup issue of chronic migraines were identified as being helped significantly by the treatment. Extensive experiments to alter the expression of certain nerve cell pain pathways in the trigeminovascular system were carried out. The trigeminovascular is believed to be a neuropathway that plays a key role in migraine development.

When administered to treat migraines specifically, Botox is not intended to relax muscles, but perhaps to change nerve pathways and messages. As such, it has been found to be effective in minimizing lower back pain, bladder pain, neuropathic pain, spasticity, and spasmodic torticollis.

How often should headaches be treated with Botox? /

Most patients will see improvement within 4-5 days, however deeper and larger muscles such as the masseters can take up to two weeks to show full results.

It is important to recognize that Botox Cosmetic® effects are temporary. Depending on the area treated, the effects may last 4 or more months, however regular maintenance is recommended just before the product wears off so that you can maintain a steady benefit and optimal dosing. If patients are consistent with treatment, eventually twice per year is expected to be a sufficient treatment schedule.

I welcome you to come and discuss your concerns and questions during a complimentary, one-on-one consultation to determine whether Botox treatment for headache relief is the best option for you.

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When should Botox be used for headache treatment? /

The definition used to identify chronic migraines is occurrence on 15 or more days each month because this is how the product performed the best during trials.

It is important that you speak with an experienced and well-trained physician to discuss your headache concerns and ensure they make a diagnosis that fits your unique needs before treatment. For chronic migraine headache injection, it is crucial to visit a physician who has experience treating this particular condition.

Although in some instances, tension headaches have been shown to improve with BOTOX treatment, it is not always effective. Chronic muscle tension, especially in the neck area ,can lead to headaches and relaxing these muscles somewhat can provide relief.

You may find some headache relief with Botox treatment if your headaches are vise-like and crushing or squeezing or if they are caused by muscle spasms in the back or neck or jaw. Rather than at the base of the skull where migraine treatment typically occurs, the areas of the head which can receive BOTOX injections to improve other types of headache are across the forehead extending to the temples, the masseter muscles and down the back of the neck.

How is the treatment of headaches with Botox preformed? /

After the initial consultation, Botox treatment is usually quick, as 10-20 minutes is typically enough time to treat patients with headache concerns. One of the best things about Botox headache treatment in Toronto is that no downtime is required. As a result, you can book an appointment at our office on your lunch break and return to work and daily activities immediately after. We recommend that you avoid known blood thinners such as anti-inflammatory medications and certain supplements before injection to reduce your risk of bruising.

Botox treatment is very comfortable. This minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment uses extremely small, fine needles to administer micro-doses of the product, which is measured in units. Temporary swelling may develop at the injection site, however this resolves within minutes in most cases. The muscles are located fairly superficial to the skin’s surface, especially on the head, so the needle insertion is shallow and causes no noticeable trauma. Although most patients tolerate the minimal pain well, describing it as a small pinch, a numbing cream can be applied to your skin before treatment if desired.
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