Migraines and more; you may be surprised by the benefits of Botox beyond just smoothing wrinkles

This image shows a person receiving a Botox injection, location and date not specified | Image by scyther5, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Most people associate Botox with a popular cosmetic benefit: the ability to reduce wrinkles. However, Botox is also a valuable medical treatment for patients with chronic migraines and other conditions, including overactive bladder, excessive sweating and muscle spasms.

Revere Health Logo | Logo courtesy of Revere Health, St. George News

Botox, derived from a bacterium called clostridum botulinum, is a deadly neurotoxin that causes a neuromuscular blocking effect.

“Botox is nature’s muscle relaxer,” said Brad Root, doctor of osteopathic medicine at Revere Health Southern Utah Spine and Rehabilitation. “It’s a great treatment for migraines when used effectively.”

How does it work for migraines?

Doctors inject tiny doses of Botox around nerve endings in the forehead, preventing pain signals from reaching the muscles. The effects of Botox are not immediate, however, and it can take multiple rounds of treatment before it starts to work. One treatment typically lasts 10-12 weeks.

“Sometimes Botox treatment is indefinite,” Root said, “but you usually only need it every three months or so. You may also want to talk with your doctor about taking a ‘drug vacation’ after several rounds of treatment to see how well it has worked and to determine whether you need to continue treatment.”

Does it hurt?

Root explained that because Botox is injected into a tight muscle, it may be more painful than an injection in the arm, for example, but there are things that can help reduce the pain. These methods include topical numbing agents, pain medication or ice packs.

“The needles we use are very small, so pain is minimal,” Root said. “Most patients find that the treatment is tolerable and highly worth the result.”

Is it covered by insurance?

Botox injections can cost hundreds of dollars per treatment. The good news is Botox for chronic migraines is FDA approved and covered by most plans. Most insurance providers have a threshold of how many days a person should experience migraine in a month – usually 15 or more – before covering Botox as a first line of treatment.

It’s also important to remember that in order for Botox to be approved by an insurance provider as a treatment for chronic migraines, you must have tried and been unresponsive to other migraine treatments, including the following:

  • Antiseizure medications.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Pain relievers.
  • Blood pressure medications.
  • Other treatments as directed by a doctor.

If you’ve tried multiple treatments for chronic migraines and haven’t found success, Root advises talking to your doctor about the possibility of Botox.

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