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.