Using Botox to prevent migraine headaches

If you suffer from chronic migraines, you know the debilitating symptoms. They can include throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sounds, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and lightheadedness. What you might not know is that Botox ® is now used as a FDA-approved preventative treatment option for chronic migraines.

It has been proven to work will with patients who have not found relief from oral medication and other preventive strategies.

According to Washington University neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist, Gregory Van Stavern, MD, a specialist in migraine headaches and their visual manifestations, “When Botox is injected into the head and neck, it blocks certain chemical signals from your nerves – causing a temporary paralysis of your muscles and preventing the onset of a migraine.

We recommend Botox as a preventative treatment for chronic migraines to our patients who don’t tolerate migraine medications well or don’t experience relief following other treatments.”

Chronic migraines are diagnosed as:

  • 15 or more headache days per month
  • Headaches that last four or more hours per day
  • At least half of headache days are associated with migraine

Botox treatment sessions for migraines will typically be administered once every three months. During the sessions, the doctor will inject multiple doses of Botox into specific areas along the bridge of nose, temples, forehead, back of head, neck and upper back. Each round of treatment involves 31 injections. The injections are generally well-tolerated, and each treatment session can typically be completed in 15 minutes.

After you receive the Botox injections, it may take 10 to 14 days for the patient to experience relief. The treatments help reduce typical migraine symptoms including:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to lights, sound and smells
  • Blurred vision

Dr. Van Stavern says, “In some cases, relief from symptoms may not be experienced after the first set of injections, and you will find that additional treatments may be more effective.  The injections are generally well-tolerated and are covered by most insurance plans.”

For more information about Botox preventative treatment for migraines, or to make an appointment with Dr. Van Stavern, please call 314-362-7163 (EYES).

Washington University Eye Center
Center for Advanced Medicine
4921 Parkview Place, Suite 12C
St. Louis, MO 63110