Can BOTOX Injections Be Used to Reduce Pain or Headaches?
BOTOX® injections, which are generally associated with cosmetic medicine, are normally used to reduce the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles. The botulinum toxin injections reduce muscle contractions by causing “flaccid paralysis,” which makes them a powerful tool for much more than just wrinkle reduction.
How Is BOTOX Used in Other Areas of Medicine?
A variety of medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by muscles improperly contracting. BOTOX can be used to cause at least partial paralysis in many of the problem muscles.
For example, people with cervical dystonia suffer random and unexpected head movements and painful neck twisting because their neck muscles contract involuntarily.
People with lazy eyes or eye twitching experience imbalances or uncontrollable spasms in the muscles that control eye positioning.
Overactive bladder is often exacerbated by trabeculation – thick muscle bands around the bladder – which obstruct the outflow of urine. Injecting the bladder muscle with BOTOX paralyzes part of the muscle and can greatly improve overactive bladder symptoms.
Although there are still many unknowns when it comes to migraines and migraine symptom management, doctors do know that BOTOX can block neurotransmitters, which are responsible for pain signals. Properly administered BOTOX may not completely stop every patient’s migraines from occurring, but they can help stop neurotransmitters from transmitting nerve pain to a patient’s brain.
Is BOTOX Approved by the FDA for Non-Aesthetic Purposes?
Yes, the FDA has approved BOTOX for the treatment of 11 conditions unrelated to its initial aesthetic use, including:
- Chronic migraines
- Overactive bladders
- Incontinence due to neurologic conditions
- Cervical dystonia
- Severe underarm sweating (axillary hyperhidrosis)
The FDA approves BOTOX as a migraine treatment for patients who have chronic migraine headaches at least 15 days a month with headaches lasting four or more hours each of those days. It’s also only recommended for patients 18 and older.
BOTOX for Migraines
Patients who meet the eligibility requirements for receiving BOTOX injections as a migraine pain management therapy may not experience relief immediately. The effects of the injections are cumulative and may not reach full affect till a second or third round of injections.
Each treatment lasts for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that patients experienced about 50 percent fewer headaches after their second BOTOX injection. Additionally, patients experienced reduced headache length on the days in which they still had headaches.
If you’re interested in finding out if you’re a good candidate for BOTOX injections to manage migraine pain, you should consider scheduling a consultation with a board-certified doctor that focuses their practice on pain management or neurology.
Does Insurance Cover BOTOX Injections for Migraines?
As an FDA approved therapy for the management of migraine pain, BOTOX can be covered by many insurance companies. Many health care plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, will cover the FDA’s recommended 155 units per treatment. However, your insurer may require you and your pain management doctors to attempt alternative treatment options to manage your migraine symptoms before approving the BOTOX injections.
A pain management specialist can help you understand your options and explain the steps you may need to take to receive approval for BOTOX injections.
Can I Just Go to a Cosmetic Injection Specialist?
The effectiveness of BOTOX injections in migraine pain relief therapies is highly dependent on precise and accurate targeting and dosage. A migraine patient will often receive their units of BOTOX dispersed over up to 31 injections in seven specific areas of their head and neck.
Board-certified specialists in pain management treatments have the training and knowledge to ensure this migraine treatment is administered correctly.
Medical professionals that specialize in aesthetic procedures and injections may not have the same type of training or understand where injections need to be directed to maximize the positive effects of the treatment.
If you are struggling with chronic pain related to cervical dystonia or have serious migraines at least 15 days a month, BOTOX injections may be an effective way to manage your chronic pain. The board-certified orthopaedists and pain specialists at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics P.C. are dedicated to finding the right pain management therapies to manage each patient’s unique chronic and acute pain.