When Is Botox the Right Choice for Headache Relief?

May 08, 2023
When Is Botox the Right Choice for Headache Relief?
While it’s most famous for wrinkle control, Botox® is a helpful treatment for many other medical conditions, including chronic headaches. Our headache specialist explains how Botox works for headaches and when he might recommend it.

Always happy to be recognized as the “Headache Guy,” Dr. Wade Steeves is a general neurologist at Valley Neurology in Spokane Valley, Washington. 

Dr. Steeves treats headaches and facial pain full-time, creating comprehensive treatment strategies that may include Botox® injections for headache relief.

Here’s what Dr. Steeves says about Botox and headaches:

How does Botox help with headaches?

Botox (botulinum toxin) is approved by the FDA for treating chronic migraines, defined as headaches that occur on 15 or more days per month for at least three months.

Dr. Steeves may recommend Botox as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy for chronic migraines and tension headaches. Botox works by blocking the release of certain chemicals (neurotransmitters) involved in pain signaling, such as calcitonin gene-related peptides (CGRP).

By preventing the release of these chemicals, Botox can reduce the sensitivity of nerve endings and decrease the frequency and intensity of your headaches. 

In addition, when injected into specific points on the head and neck, Botox helps relax muscles that may play a role in headache discomfort.

What can you expect during a Botox treatment for headaches?

The protocol for prescribing Botox headache treatment can vary from patient to patient. Generally, however, the treatment involves a series of injections around the head and neck every 12 weeks.

Dr. Steeves provides Botox injections here at Valley Neurology, and the treatments are quick. The needles used for Botox injections are tiny. Most people experience only mild discomfort, if any, usually just a pinch at the injection site.

You can also expect Dr. Steeves to discuss his expectations and potential adverse effects of Botox thoroughly before initiating therapy. However, side effects are rare when a qualified medical professional delivers the injections.

You may require ongoing injection therapy every 12 weeks to prevent chronic headaches, but some people can discontinue treatment eventually without an increase in headache frequency.

Who’s a good candidate for Botox treatment?

Dr. Steeves’ goal is to use the most effective treatment available to eliminate the pain and other debilitating symptoms of chronic migraines and tension headaches.

In general, he recommends Botox for chronic headaches if oral medications, avoiding migraine triggers, and other preventive measures haven’t adequately controlled headache frequency.

Dr. Steeves notes that Botox treatment isn’t a cure for migraines and isn’t considered a standalone treatment. However, combined with other therapies, it can often help prevent chronic headaches.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Steeves at Valley Neurology today to learn more about effective chronic headache treatment, which may include Botox injections. Call the office or request an appointment online.