Botox was first used to treat medical conditions in the 1980’s. It was used to treat a condition that caused crossed eyes in children. Since then, medical advances have allowed Botox to be used for multiple conditions that cause involuntary muscle movements and muscle tensions.
It is usually associated with plastic surgery and cosmetic changes like minimizing wrinkles, but it can be used for more serious medical conditions. Botox is FDA approved to help reduce the symptoms of chronic headaches.
What is Botox?
Botox is a type of pure protein that is created by the bacteria, Clostridium Botulinum. There are seven different strains of proteins, but only 2 have been approved by the FDA for medical use, and only one is available on the market, Type A.
How Botox is Used for Pain Relief
Botox injections block the chemical that causes muscles to contract and become tense. Cosmetically, it is used to reduce wrinkles in the forehead and around your eyes. However, it is becoming more popular to reduce chronic and acute pain that affects your muscles. The number of injections you need will depend on the type of pain you have and how extreme your symptoms are.
In 2010, the FDA approved Botox for treating patients with chronic migraines – meaning headaches that occur on 15 or more days a month. Patients are reporting success with this treatment. This treatment reduces the muscle contractions that result in chronic headaches for about 3 months.
Physicians inject Botox around the pain fibers that are involved in headaches. Botox blocks the release of chemicals that transmit pain from activators the brain. It is designed to treat migraines before they start, although maximum results are typically seen after two or three treatments.
What to Expect from Botox Injections
The injections are rarely painful, but can cause discomfort and the patient might feel some pressure. Doctors will use numbing agents such as a topical anesthetic, ice, or vibration anesthetics to reduce any pain and increase comfort during the procedure.
Botox treatments can be done in your doctor’s office and will take approximately 20 minutes. Your doctor will use tiny needles to inject small amounts of Botox into the affected areas. Each treatment typically requires 31 injections in the seven key areas around your neck and head.
After the procedure, you may feel slight tenderness at the injection site. It’s important to not rub or massage the are for 24 hours after the injection to prevent the Botox from spreading to other areas.
Your Botox injections will start to work in about 1-3 days after treatment and can last for up to three months (up to 12 weeks). If the injections help reduce your pain, you can repeat the injection up to 4 times a year. Treatments reportedly reduce migraines up to 50%.
If you suffer from chronic headaches, talk to your doctor about whether you are a candidate for Botox injections.