Botox for Migraines: How it Works & What to Expect

If you've been diagnosed with migraine and experience frequent headaches, you might be wondering if there's anything you can do to avoid them.If you’ve suffered through migraine attacks, you know the excruciating, pulsing, and incapacitating pain, and you're probably prepared to try everything to avoid — or at least decrease — the misery. Especially if you have chronic migraines, you might have tried every preventive treatment out there or had multiple visits to the doctor’s office or headache specialist. But there is one treatment you might not have suggested to you.

Have you ever considered Botox shots? While most people connect Botox with its power to erase wrinkles off the face, it has also been recommended as a strong therapy for migraine patients. Botox, also known as OnabotulinumtoxinA, has been certified for individuals suffering from chronic migraines since 2010. It is also an FDA-approved treatment. In this article, we talk about botox for migraines, what to expect, and more. Keep reading to learn more about how botox treatments can work for migraine pain.

What is Botox?

Man with a Migraine

Botox is a muscle-weakening or paralyzing medication. It can effectively cure various medical issues and minimize skin wrinkles in tiny doses. Botox is a protein derived from the Botulinum, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, a rod-shaped spore-forming bacterium. If you ingest it in rotten food, it can produce botulism, which is a fatal reaction in which it stops nerve impulses and paralyzes your muscles. The toxin isn't absorbed in your gut, and the dosage is far lower than you'd get from contaminated food, so it's harmless.

Botox injections have been discovered to help clear wrinkles by relaxing facial muscles. It also aids those who suffer from tics and tremors as a result of a nerve illness such as cerebral palsy. People with migraines who agreed to administer Botox to repair their wrinkles reported that their migraine symptoms had improved. As a result, scientists began to investigate it as a migraine treatment. Botox injections are made using very small quantities of Botulinum toxin. The medicine can paralyze muscles momentarily, which can help individuals with a variety of muscular and nerve diseases.

How does it work?

Treating a Migraine with Botox

Botox is a neurotoxic, which means it causes nerve damage. These chemicals attack the neural system, interfering with nerve communication that causes muscular contraction. This is how the medicine produces muscle paralysis for a short period of time.

At the intersection where nerve terminals contact muscle cells, nerves produce a chemical message called acetylcholine, which causes any muscle cells to contract. Acetylcholine binds to the receptors on muscle cells, causing them to lengthen or compress.

The neurotoxin enters your nerves and changes the neurotransmitter release that carries impulses across your cells in the brain. Because of this disturbance, taking this poison orally can be extremely harmful. It's even possible to become paralyzed as a result of it.

However, findings indicate that the same technique can reduce migraine headaches by preventing the release of pain-producing chemicals in modest, injectable doses. This delay is how experts believe this procedure could aid in the relief of chronic migraine discomfort.

It is also proved to help with other migraine symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Puking
  • Illumination, audio, and smell sensitivities.

What is a migraine?

The majority of people feel that a migraine is simply a terrible headache, but it may be much more. A migraine is a limiting neurological condition involving different symptoms and treatment techniques relative to other headache disorders. A migraine is more than just a throbbing headache. This neurological condition causes excruciating sharp pain that can keep you in bed all the time! Pain, weariness, sickness, visual problems, loss of sensation, impatience, difficulty talking, temporary loss of eyesight, and other symptoms may be caused by movement, sunlight, sound, and other stimuli.

Is there a distinction between migraines and headaches?

Botox treatment is approved for people who have headaches for over 15 days every month and migraines for a minimum of 8 of such days. What, though, is the distinction between a migraine and a headache?

Depending on the source, headaches can produce discomfort in various areas of the head:

  • Mental or physical stress can produce headaches in certain people (tension headaches).
  • Others are triggered by tension in the sinuses (sinus headaches).
  • Cluster headaches are very severe headaches that seem to occur at the same time every day.

Migraines, on the other hand, frequently include symptoms other than head pain. Drowsiness, sickness, light sensitivity, and severe exhaustion are all possible symptoms (tiredness). Migraines can come in several stages, with signs and indicators such as vision problems, mood swings, and speech difficulties.

Is Botox Effective in the Treatment of Migraine Headaches?

In research of persons with chronic migraine headaches, Botox injections decreased the average number of days they suffered them and the length of time they suffered other forms of symptoms. They also experienced lower days off from work and more pain-free days every month.

In another survey, over half of those who received two sets of Botox claimed a drop in the number of days they had a migraine each month. After five rounds of medication, over 70% of the patients experienced the same.

Botox is thought to help with migraine headaches by blocking molecules called neurotransmitters, which transfer sensory signals from the brain. Botox acts as a detour on that course. It prevents the chemicals from reaching the nerve terminals in your neck and head.

What is the research behind Botox's use in migraine treatment?

Botox was not intended to be used to treat migraines. Botox is most known for its effectiveness in helping reduce wrinkles, but it was created to help cure crossed eyes. People who got Botox for other reasons started to experience a reduction in migraine discomfort as well.

In 2010, researchers conducted two double-blind, controlled clinical studies involving over 1,000 adults from Europe and North America to see if there was a link. Botox was observed to reduce the number of migraine days in both trials.

These observations have been validated in more recent investigations during the last couple of years:

  • According to a 2017 analysis, there is strong medical evidence that Botox enhances the quality of life for patients who suffer from chronic migraines.
  • Botox as a cure for chronic migraine was known to be successful, secure, and well-tolerated in a three-year trial published in 2018. They also discovered that it reduced the number of headache days on average.
  • Botox was reported to help reduce the number of migraine days by an average of two each month in a 2018 report.
  • Three months of Botox treatment helped avoid persistent migraines, according to a review of the research published in 2019.

The Botox Treatment

Expect your initial Botox treatment to last approximately 20 minutes. A very tiny needle, about the size of a pinprick, is used by the doctor. He or she injects little quantities of Botox into the body's superficial muscles. Injections are administered in seven important locations of the neck and head during each session.

In the botox treatment, once every 12 weeks, you'll get numerous doses of Botox across your neck and head to reduce or eliminate migraines. It's possible that you will need 30 to 40 bullets in total, with an equivalent amount on each side of the head. If you suffer migraine pain in one location, you may require further shots. After your initial treatment, you should see benefits in 2 to 3 weeks.

This sort of Botox treatment should be administered by a physician who has been trained to administer these injections for persistent chronic migraines rather than wrinkles or even other cosmetic purposes.

The most common symptom of Botox injections is a sore neck, which can be relieved by applying an ice pack. Botox can take about six months to achieve optimum results. Meanwhile, there is no danger of drug interaction if you keep taking your regular drugs.

Advantages of Botox for Chronic Migraine

Botox has a wide range of medicinal applications and advantages. Eye muscle problems such as strabismus and lazy eye, excessive perspiration, increased urination, muscle spasms, and cervical dystonia are treated with it. Botox has several benefits when it comes to treating migraines, including:

Long-term Botox therapy is safe

Research has proved that long-term Botox treatment improves migraine discomfort without causing serious negative effects in chronic migraine sufferers.

Lower headache daily recurrence

As the symptoms improve, the number of migraine periods you have will reduce, allowing you to enjoy a higher quality of life.

It can be used in conjunction with acute migraine drugs

Even if you've already had Botox injections, you can still use migraine meds to get better treatment.

Can avoid migraine before it starts

Because the neurotoxic prevents pain signals from reaching your brain, you would not experience headache discomfort, and the signs will not intensify.

Disadvantages of Botox for Chronic Migraine

Following a Botox procedure, there have been few documented problems. Mild soreness and edema at the injection site are the most typical side effects. This is primarily due to the injecting trauma to the epidermis. However, soreness and irritation may subside in a few days with an ice pack or cool compress.

Neck soreness, stiffness, muscle pain in the shoulders and neck, and a transient headache are possible side effects. Adverse effects are extremely rare, occurring primarily when the shot was administered incorrectly or when the toxin moved to other areas of the body.

Drooping eyelids, muscle weakness, problems talking and breathing, loss of urinary incontinence, dry eyes, fuzzy vision, and symptoms of allergic response like itching and redness are only a few of the major side effects recorded in clinical studies. A minimum of 1% of Botox users have reported severe headaches due to the procedure.

What Is the Best Place to Get Botox for Migraines?

Only a licensed health professional or a Botox specialist may administer the treatment. Your healthcare physician should be thoroughly aware of the nature and symptoms of persistent migraine. Because the surgery necessitates injections into the sensitive muscles, they must be skilled and precise in administering them.

Treating chronic migraine can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to show benefits. A migraine sufferer may require at least two 12-week treatments. If Botox proves to be successful for your migraines, you may choose to get repeated injections four times a year (or as recommended by your doctor) for preventive and extended relief.


Chronic migraine headaches might reduce a person's joy in daily tasks and hinder their performance at work. While migraine medications and pharmaceuticals can provide brief relief, Botox is being recommended as a proven migraine treatment that delivers comfort and eases to help reduce migraine.

This article delved into what botox is and how it is actively being utilized to treat chronic migraine. We hope you learned something new by reading our article.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions