BOTOX - Headache

The usefulness of Botox in treating migraine, tension headaches and chronic daily headache was discovered by happenstance, when patients who had Botox injections for wrinkles reported improvement in their headaches. The exact mechanism by which Botox prevents headache is unknown, but it is thought to inhibit the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. A well designed scientific study involving 123 migraine patients demonstrated a significant improvement in the frequency and severity of migraines and reduction in use of other migraine medications, in one group of patients, 2 and 3 months after receiving 25 units of Botox. Other studies have also shown benefit, and some have suggested multiple treatments with Botox enhances the benefit.

The use of Botox to prevent headache is an “off label” use, meaning that Botox has not been explicitly approved for this use by health Canada. However, based on the outcomes of sound scientific studies, Botox has become a standard treatment in virtually all headache clinics. Techniques for Botox injection for headache is somewhat different than for wrinkles, and migraine specialists have tended to use one of 3 recognized protocols for treating headaches.

Most headaches are benign in nature, but occasionally headaches are due to serious underlying medical conditions. It is therefore recommended that headache patients be assessed by a physician who has extensive experience in the evaluation, diagnosis and in all treatment modalities for headache, including injection of Botox Cosmetic.

Many private Health Insurance plans routinely cover the cost of Botox Cosmetic when it is used for headache. However they will often require a letter from a physician to do so.