Can Botox help migraines?
If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you will be familiar with the throbbing pain, visual changes and nausea that they bring. Migraines are recurrent, severe headaches that affect around one in four women and one in twelve men. They often start in adolescence and subside in later life, severely impacting on a sufferers’ quality of life. According to the World Health Organisation, migraines are a disabling condition that can keep you out of work and results in lost productivity and general wellness.
If you’re battling frequent migraines, you may be unsure of where to turn for help. But understanding their causes and the possible treatment options, such as Botox, will give you a good idea of where to start. Read on for everything you need to know.
What causes migraines?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a migraine is a brain disease that causes various uncomfortable symptoms that can last anywhere from a few hours to up to three days. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but research says that both genes and environmental factors likely play a role. Migraines often run in families, and UK researchers recently identified five variations of genetic code common in migraine sufferers, in addition to other known genetic links. Some are located near genes that control the way our brains behave.
Hormones are important, too – many women experience migraines just before their periods (menstrual migraine), after childbirth or while taking oestrogen either in the contraceptive pill or, occasionally, hormone replacement therapy. But there are many other triggers.
Can they be diagnosed?
There is no test to diagnose migraines, but they can usually be diagnosed from the symptoms alone. If they’re more unusual, change, or become even more frequent, or if they begin after the age of 40, your GP may refer you to a neurologist for tests such as a brain scan to rule out more severe conditions or for treatment advice.
What is the difference between a migraine and a headache?
Migraine headaches can cause severe and debilitating symptoms before, during, and after the attack, although everyone’s experience will differ.
Symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly, and differ significantly from regular headaches. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s likely a migraine:
- Debilitating throbbing
- Pain on just one side of the head – while migraines can be experienced on both sides of the head, the pain is typically only on one side
- Seeing sparking lights or flashes
- Stiff neck
If you have a migraine, lie down in a quiet, darkened room if you can. You may find that a simple painkiller such as soluble paracetamol or ibuprofen relieves the headache but avoid taking these every day. You may also need medication to relieve nausea or vomiting. Some options specifically treat migraines by narrowing the dilated brain arteries. You can obtain all of these from your GP or pharmacist.
Botox is used as a preventative treatment in chronic migraines. Rather than stopping your migraines once they’ve started, Botox aims to reduce the number of days on which you experience migraines and improve your quality of life.
During treatment, tiny amounts of Botox are injected into the muscles around your head, neck and shoulders. This blocks the signals sent from the brain, which tell the muscles to contract. Botox effectively disarms the muscles responsible for migraines and ensures that they don’t send panic signals throughout the body. Botox can help to keep the muscle relaxed for anywhere from three to six months, after which it’s hoped that the muscle will be able to contract generally without pain or spasms.
To find out more about treatment, or to make an enquiry, click here.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.