Chronic Migraine, News & Research, Treatment

Botox Doesn’t Relieve Migraines & Tension-Type Headaches?

A review of all available data on treating migraines and tension-type headaches with Botox indicates it is no better than a placebo, according to a US News & World Report article. The findings are included in guidelines for using Botox published in today’s issue of the journal Neurology.

Botox Works on Muscle Disorders But Not Migraines

[B]otulinum toxin has become an effective treatment for numerous movement disorders associated with excessive muscle contraction.

The new guidelines approve its use for treating cervical dystonia, a condition of involuntary head tilt or neck movement; involuntary facial contractions, involuntary eye closure, focal limb dystonias (such as writer’s cramp), essential tremor and some spastic bladder disorders. The drug is injected directly into affected muscles.

[non-contiguous paragraphs]

The finding that botulinum toxin probably does not help relieve migraine or chronic tension headaches surprised the researchers.

“Based on currently available data, botulinum toxin injections should not be offered to patients with episodic migraine and chronic tension-type headaches,” pain guidelines author Dr. Markus Naumann, head of the Department of Neurology at Augsburg Hospital in Germany, said in a prepared statement. “It is no better than placebo injections for these types of headache.”

I haven’t even found the abstract yet. I’ll let you know as soon as I learn more about this surprising report. If you know anything about it, please leave a comment below.

8 thoughts on “Botox Doesn’t Relieve Migraines & Tension-Type Headaches?”

  1. I have suffered from chronic migraines as long as I can remember and back as far as young childhood. I have tried narcotic meds and other meds, massage, chiropractic adjustments…you name it. I have identified my triggers (foods, smells, sounds, …you name it)I also get migraines for no reason I can identify.
    I get 15-18 level 6 or higher migraines a month. A new neurologist suggested botox last year. I have had 3 treatments and have had very good success. I now only get 2-3 migraines a week and they are rarely over a level 5, which to me is manageable. I still use imitrex and sumavel, heat and massage. I know I will likely have migraines the remainder of my life, but botox really did work for me and appears to have a cumulative effect. I have fewer migraines now than I did after the first injections.
    I have a friend that started botox about the same time I did, but her experience was very different. the injections made her sick and her headaches increased before they got better. I’m sure like every other medication, it is an individual experience. Why we get migraines, what other diseases we may have and what other medications we are already taking must play a part in the effectiveness of any one treatment. I’m just glad I found that is working now. If it stops working, I will begin my search again, like all migraine sufferers do.

  2. This has been proposed to me because I have multi-symptoms related to high neck damage, DDD, arthritis, and TMJ…..Had RF ablation/lesioning done to nerve last October, and my eye jerking, face tingling, and occipital pain is coming back… that was short. I have stenosis at C-5,6 and I think if they took care of that, then a lot of other stuff would get back to normal.
    The thecal sac has 8 mm of bone projecting into the spinal cord space……that leaves 6 mm for movement. Any comments? Nan

    It sounds like things are super-complicated. I don’t know enough to give you advice. Best of luck, though.


  3. i have 3-10 days of migraine a month. i had botox in january and again maybe a month ago. i haven’t noticed any benefit. they injected my forehead, scalp, neck, shoulders… i have had a rash on my forehead since the first shot. hmm….

  4. Interesting experiences. I’ve had it three times, once at one clinic and twice at another. It had no long term effect for me, but did give me three days of horrible migraines after the injections.

    I know there are people who swear by it…


  5. I had Botox done (for migraines) at the Jefferson Headache Clinic in Philly.

    They didn’t inject my face at all. They did a series of shots starting at the top of my head and going down to the back of my neck. Didn’t have any effect on my headaches,but didn’t make things worse.

  6. A friend of mine has a client that received botox injections for migraines and according to her client he experienced great results from it. Placebo? Maybe, but he was convinced that it worked.

  7. i got botox twice for migraines and TMJ pain, which cost $1100 CDN. the first time i didnt have a migraine for 2 months. even after the botox ‘went away’, i had residual benefits from it. my migraines were definitely decreased, but my TMJ muscular pain came right back.

    the second time it didn’t work *at all*. my body fought it off. now that was a waste of another $1100.

  8. I tried Botox for my chronic headaches and it made it much worse for two to three weeks. It didn’t help at all. What a waste of $400. And the day of the injection the headache was brutal. A month after this experiment, my doctor told me that people with Fibromyalgia often react negatively to Botox. She didn’t tell me that before she injected me!

    I didn’t get any relief from my head pain and they use so much Botox for this procedure that I didn’t even benefit from fewer wrinkles, rather, I couldn’t move my forehead and looked very unexpressive for a month or so. All in all, not a good time.

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