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Emma Kalman

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Published on: 19 Feb 2017 by e-kalman

Treating Chronic Headaches with Botox

Botulinum Toxin is caused by bacteria Clostridium Botulinum, which is known to cause a life – threatening food poisoning Botulism. The same toxin in very small amount is used in medicine, first for the treatment of wrinkles, focal dystonias that affect the face and eyes, but in the last few years, it has been used also for the treatment of chronic headaches.

Onabotulinumtoxin A is an injectable drug used not only for wrinkles but since 2010 also for the treatment of chronic headaches, approved by FDA.

Around 30% of the population suffers from a type of a headache. Headaches are known to be more frequent among women, than among men. Headaches vary from one person to another. They vary in severity and frequency, interfering with everyday life and affecting the quality of life. There are different medication treatments for headaches. However, all of them have their side effects and contraindications. In many cases, these treatment options are also very little effective or even ineffective.

A couple of years ago Botox as a treatment option for chronic headaches was discovered coincidentally. Many patients who received Botox injections for wrinkles on their face and forehead reported relief of their sign and symptoms. This led to a number of clinical trials using Botox as a treatment option for headaches, especially for chronic headaches. These studies showed that treatment with Botox relieved migraine headaches, muscle tension headaches or an even chronic daily headache.

It is believed that Botox works by reducing the muscle contraction or by blocking a pain – transmitting chemical, or as a combination of both these actions.

Approximately 10 – 12 injections are given for this treatment, half of them in the forehead and the other half of them in the back of the neck. It usually takes up to two weeks for the Botox injection to have an effect, which then usually lasts 2 to 5 months.

As any other treatment options, even Botox injections have their side effects. Luckily the side effects and complications after receiving Botox injections for headache treatments are very rare. The most common reported side effects include: pain at the injection site, stiffness, headache, loss of strength, muscle weakness, drooping eyelids, vision changes, hoarseness, loss of bladder control, etc. In very rare cases this neurotoxin can also spread in other parts of the body. 

If Botox injections are the right treatment option for your chronic headaches only your doctor and you can decide. You should consult with your doctor when considering Botox injections. However, keep in mind that this treatment option is not recommended for everyone. 

Botox injections are contraindicated in people with a known allergy or hypersensitivity reaction to human albumin and botulinum toxin, people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Eaton – Lambert Syndrome, etc. Botox injections should also be avoided during pregnancy and lactation as there are still controversial opinions. Until now, the effect of Botox injections during pregnancy and lactation has not been studied, so it is wiser to avoid them until childbirth or until giving up with lactation.

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