Botox is best known for smoothing out wrinkles, but since 2010 it’s also been used to prevent migraines. (Scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why Botox works, though it may interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain.) Though the 36 injections I get every three months in my forehead, skull, neck, and shoulders are painful, they’ve been a game changer. I went from 16 to 18 migraines a month to about eight. The intensity of the pain has gone down, too. The results are so good that I find myself frustrated that I spent so many years in unnecessary misery.
If you think either of the FDA-approved anti-CGRP treatments might be right for you, speak with your primary health care provider, neurologist or headache specialist. If your medical provider isn’t aware of the treatments, don’t be afraid to let him or her know about them, or ask for a referral to a local neurologist or headache specialist. This is just the first step in advocating for the care that you deserve. To find a headache specialist in your area, consult our Find a Doctor tool. Dr. Starling believes that every person with migraine should be involved in advocacy, in order to bring awareness to the disease and break the stigma that surrounds it. She recommends that patients living with migraine get involved in advocacy organizations, such as our Move Against Migraine support community. You can also attend the annual Headache on the Hill event in which patients and providers go to Capitol Hill asking for more National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for migraine and other headache disorders. The next Headache on the Hill event is planned for February 11-12, 2019. Within the coming weeks, the American Migraine Foundation will be compiling a guide to all three anti-CGRP treatments. For additional information on anti-CGRP migraine treatment options, consult our doctor-verified resource library.
Botox only lasts three to six months—and yet what's less commonly discussed is this: Facial muscles naturally weaken over time and going overboard in a certain area could have unwanted consequences. "If you do too much Botox on your forehead for many, many years, the muscles will get weaker and flatter," cautions Wexler, adding that the skin can also appear thinner and looser. Moreover, as your muscles become weaker, they can start to recruit surrounding muscles when you make facial expressions. "If one stops using their forehead muscles, they may start squinting using their nose and have wrinkles along the side of their nose," she explains. Translation: You need even more Botox for the newly recruited muscles, says Wexler. To avoid these kind of missteps, researching a doctor diligently is essential, as is approaching injectables conservatively, and asking questions about how the treatment will be tailored to your needs.
A follow-up visit is most often scheduled at around three months after injection. The team will determine if it was helpful and if the effect is wearing off. The effect on muscle spasticity by botulinum toxin is temporary and can last for up to three to five months. This also varies with the amount of toxin injected, the size of the muscle, the degree of spasticity in the muscle, and treatment such as therapy and bracing.
Focal Spasticity is a condition in which certain muscles in your body become stiff or tight. It is caused by damage to parts of the central nervous system that control voluntary movements. When this happens, your nerves send continuous messages to your muscles telling them to contract, or tighten. If you or someone you care for has stiffness in the muscles of the elbow, wrist, fingers, thumb, ankle, or toes, it could be Focal Spasticity.1