Although Botox is most commonly thought of as a cosmetic surgery treatment designed to smooth out wrinkles, for some migraine sufferers it is their treatment of choice for reducing the number of migraine attacks they experience.
Botox (botulinum toxin type A) migraine treatment usually involves between 15 and 20 Botox injections around the head and neck given once every three to four months.
In terms of how effective it is as a treatment, studies in the past have had mixed results. However, a new review of the Botox studies which have explored the efficacy of Botox in reducing migraine frequency has shown that Botox has small but significant benefits, and also has few serious side effects associated with it.
The review looked at data from 17 studies, and in doing so could analyse the data from 3,646 patients. In the studies, Botox injections were tested against placebo injections, and it was found that the chronic migraine patients in the Botox injection group (those who experienced more than 15 migraine days per month) had an average of 1.6 fewer migraine attacks per month.
After the third month of treatment, quality of life was reported as being significantly improved for the Botox group. This was explained by the reduced impact of headaches and migraine-related disability reducing the patient’s symptoms of depression and anxiety.
In terms of side effects, the Botox group did experience more side effects than the placebo group – with some reports of effects such as muscle-weakness, dizziness, neck pain, and skin tightness. These side effects were mild in severity and short-lived. This is a positive tick for Botox as a treatment, since prophylactic oral medications have more serious side effects linked to them, such as fatigue, decreased libido, weight gain, and more dangerous effects too including allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.
The reviews authors concluded from their work that “botulinum toxin type A is a safe and well-tolerated treatment that should be offered to patients with migraine”.