My Experience With Botox for Migraines
Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.
For years I knew Botox was a treatment option for migraines but I avoided it. For some reason, I never thought it was necessary for me. I only knew of one person who got it and she said it helped her out a great deal. Who knew it was the secret waiting to improve my quality of life.
I’ve always been a very headache-y person. Even back in high school I remember vividly having headaches almost daily after school.
The migraines started later in life, before my lupus diagnosis. While sometimes they’d come out of the blue or I’d wake up with them, other times I’d see them coming. From a neurologist’s suggestion, I learned some of my “triggers” such as weather changes (specifically, drops in barometric pressure and incoming storms), hormonal changes and dairy. This past year I significantly reduced my dairy intake and although that didn’t eliminate the migraines, if I did eat dairy, I was sure to get one. Many of my migraines would also start as tension headaches. My neck is always extremely tight and eventually the constant tightness causes a migraine. Due to this, my old rheumatologist suggested taking a muscle relaxer at the beginning of a headache or before bed to keep my muscles from tensing up overnight and preventing a migraine. It worked sometimes… but definitely not enough.
The headaches seemed to get more aggressive and more frequent over time. Neurologists prescribed triptans which are migraine medications, but were also hesitant for me to take them due to me having POTS.
So I just lived with headaches.
Almost every single day.
Finally a friend of mine said she got Botox for migraines and it was life-changing. Hearing it from a friend made me feel much better about trying it so I made an appointment with another neurologist (because mine doesn’t do them). I desperately wanted to cancel the appointment because:
A) I have an irrational fear of new medications (even though Botox is so common).
B) It’s pretty far away and my appointment was during rush hour.
C) And most of all, I had a migraine.
After some convincing that this may actually help me, and a blindfold, I laid back for the ride.
I had a consult and the doctor quickly realized that I was a candidate for Botox. He ordered an MRI and doppler of my brain to make sure everything else was A-OK, and then the rest was just waiting on my insurance company. With Botox (I’m not sure if it’s all Botox or just prescription), the insurance company orders it from a pharmacy and sends it to the doctor.
My second trip to the doctor for the MRI and dopplers went well, but again, I had a migraine. As many of you know, MRIs are extremely loud so that wasn’t one of my favorite memories.
Thankfully, the MRI and doppler of my brain both came back unremarkable.
Unremarkable. I mean, that’s a good thing in the MRI-reading world, but I’d like to say my brain is freakin’ remarkable sometimes. Maybe I’m biased. Anyways. Shortly after those tests, the Botox arrived at the office and I was scheduled for my injections. To say I was scared is putting it lightly. Like I mentioned before, I have a complete irrational fear of new medication. Also, I didn’t want my face to look different! So I documented my wrinkles just to see how many would last (if you want, be my guest to check out my embarrassing video). I didn’t have to wait long and before I knew it, I was in a room with my mom, my boyfriend, a neurologist and three needles.
30 shots. That’s what it takes. The locations below are similar to where my neurologist injected me. I had a total of 14 on my forehead, two behind each temple, six on the back of my head, and three in each trapezius region.
It didn’t hurt, per se… but it definitely was not pleasant. Some I didn’t feel at all, and some felt like a rubber band snapping on me. It was over within two minutes though and I was only swollen on my forehead for about 15 minutes afterwards.
Thrilled to be done!
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is injected in and around the head on an average of every three months. It blocks signals from nerves and paralyzes the muscles, ultimately preventing migraines. It is known to relax the muscles that usually contract during migraines. It’s also the only FDA-approved medication to prevent migraines before they even start! It’s known to prevent about nine migraines per month.
So… Did It Work?!
It’s been a little over three weeks. The neurologist said that after two weeks, my migraines and headaches should be substantially reduced. I haven’t spoken about it much even to people close to me because I didn’t want to jinx it, but right around the two-week mark, my headaches faded. I did have a migraine the day after the injections, followed by a lingering headache for about a week, but my neurologist didn’t think it was caused by the Botox. I know my body and have a feeling it was, especially because the introduction or removal of medication can exacerbate lupus symptoms and flares, so I was put on a prednisone taper just to be safe.
But like I said… my headaches lessened.
I had full days without headaches.
I had my infusion and only had an extremely mild headache, when usually I’d be in pain for days.
It’s raining tonight and again, I only had a mild headache, when usually that would trigger me.
Other than that, I can say I’ve been headache- and migraine-free. It’s an unbelievable feeling and I can’t believe I waited so long to try this.
This story originally appeared on Nicole’s blog.