How does Botox help headaches?

Botox, which was recently approved for the treatment of chronic migraine headaches, was originally thought to relieve migraine headaches by relaxing tight muscles around the scalp.  However, several recent studies determined that besides relaxing muscles, Botox also stops the release of several neurotransmitters from the nerve endings.  These neurotransmitters are released by messages sent from the brain centers that trigger a migraine attack.  In turn the released neurotransmitters send pain messages back to the brain completing a vicious self-sustaining cycle.  A meticulous study just published in the journal Pain by Danish researcher confirmed that injections of Botox stop the release of neurotransmitters and reduce sensitivity of rat’s chewing muscles.  Not knowing the exact way how Botox works makes many doctors skeptical about its efficacy.  However, we have no idea how preventive medications, such as beta blockers, antidepressants and epilepsy drugs prevent headaches either.  These drugs, like Botox, were also discovered to help headaches by accident.  This does not and should not stop us from using them.  Botox is more effective and safer than medications taken by mouth and is an excellent option for over 3 million Americans who suffer from chronic migraines.

4 comments
  1. Angel Davy-Taylor says: 07/21/20117:31 pm

    I have been sufering from debilitating migraines for over 12 years I was wondering are there any shcolorships or funding for the botox?

  2. Theresa says: 11/12/20118:28 am

    In 2000 I had a very bad car accident with brain injury and since then I do suffer with very bad headaches and I do not like ti to take so much medication. i would just like to know if the botox will help for these headaches I’m getting it even wake me up at night …please help

    many thanks
    Theresa

  3. Dr. Mauskop says: 11/12/201112:44 pm

    Botox seems to work for chronic migraine headaches regardless of the underlying cause or trigger, including those due to head injury, brain surgery, hormonal changes, weather, and other. So, if the headaches are frequent and disabling, even if they are not textbook migraines, it is worth trying Botox injections.
    Since Angel posted his question, a clinical study of Botox for migrianes appeared on this site http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01432379 Clinical studies are free and sometimes even pay a small stipend.

  4. Nikole Davis says: 10/11/20123:08 am

    I have an arachnoid cyst that causes horrible headaches I have all day everyday and i’m sick of doctors handing me pills. Nobody will do anything to get rid of the cyst and wont help with any of the symptoms that go beyond the headaches.

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