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Botox for Chronic Migraine – My Experience

I’d been having a great run with my Migraine preventives working well, then problems hit. Due to losing weight, my dosage of verapamil had to be cut in half, and I had to stop taking fosinopril. Both of these medications had been integral parts of my Migraine prevention, and my Migraines soon increased in both frequency and severity. My doctor prescribed another medication, but it didn’t help.

Dr. David Watson, my Migraine specialist, asked me how many days a month I was having Migraines and headaches. I had to admit that I had stopped keeping my Migraine diary when I was doing well, and wasn’t really sure. Then, he asked the question that counted, “How many days a month do you feel well, Migraine-free and headache-free?” That was when we both realized that my Migraines had progressed from episodic Migraine to chronic Migraine – again.

Botox-Chronic-MigraineHis suggestion? Botox injections. I agreed, and he did the first set of Botox injections in December. The protocol for Botox injections for chronic Migraine is an injection pattern that includes 31 injections. You can see the injection sites in these images: Botox-Injection-Sites-Migraine.

The injections took less than 15 minutes, and I hardly felt most of them. The forehead injections did hurt a bit, but only for a few seconds. Dr. Watson had warned me that the injections can sometimes trigger a Migraine, so I was prepared with my abortive medications, but the injections didn’t trigger a Migraine that day.

It’s been nearly three months since that treatment, and I’m quite pleased with the results. My Migraine and headache days have decreased from 25 in November to 12 in February, and the severity of the Migraines has decreased. A surprising effect is that I’m not as sensitive to light between Migraines as I was before the Botox treatment. I’ve also discontinued the last oral medication that we were trying for Migraine prevention.

My insurance company did cover the Botox since it’s now FDA approved for chronic Migraine. My copayment was a bit over $300, which is offset by the discontinuation of one preventive medication and less need for abortive and rescue medications.

Before I left my specialist’s office after the Botox treatment, his nurse gave me an information sheet about Allergan’s Partnership for Access program. This program is to help patients with treatment costs, and its available to those of us with insurance if our insurance is not Medicare, Medicaid, or any other federal or state government health care program. The sheet instructed me to go to the Partnership for Access program web site and apply. I did that, and received a registration packet in the mail. I completed it and returned it with a copy of the insurance explanation of benefits form that showed my payment. They’ll be sending me a MasterCard debit card for $100, meant to be used at hospitals, physician offices, and pharmacies for future medical expenses. Allergan also has a patient assistance program for people who can’t afford Botox treatment.

Overall, I’m very pleased with Botox treatment so far. It was quick and nearly painless, and I’m definitely seeing an improvement in my Migraines. I’ve had absolutely no negative side effects from the treatment. The only visible effect is that my forehead is smoother – definitely NOT a problem. Dr. Watson has told me that there tends to be a cumulative effects, so I could see even better results after my next treatment, which is scheduled for March 22.

If you have chronic Migraine and are having problems finding effective preventive treatment, you may find it helpful to discuss the possibility of Botox treatment with your doctor. One precautionary note – It’s important that the doctor administering Botox for chronic Migraine be trained and experienced in administering Botox for Migraine. The injection sites are far different for Migraine than for other conditions or for cosmetic purposes. I’ve talked with some people whose doctors didn’t follow the chronic Migraine protocol and had no results from Botox treatment, but did have positive results when they received treatment from a doctor experienced in administering Botox for chronic Migraine. Also, the chronic Migraine injection sites have changed from the period of time when Botox was in clinical trials. The final protocol for injections is that which I linked to above.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • trigeminalgal
    2 years ago

    I have been getting the Botox shots for about two and a half years.My insurance pays all but a very small co-pay. I generally find them to be quite uncomfortable, but the last round I had hurt. This may be because I had just started another medication for a different medical issue or it may have been because I was about to have a mgrain episode. Which happened the next day, with no headache. (More of my migraines are headache free since I started Botox. Everything but, nausea, light phobia, chills, body ache, fatigue, etc.) My migraine headaches are greatly reduced, from almost daily to eight to ten a month. I did have some eyelid drooping at one point but that went away when my neurologist on the advice of my optoneurolgist placed the forehead shots closer to the hair line. Botox does not help at all with my vertigo but acupunture did amazing things for that. Botox doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me and if you can afford it, I would give it a try. ( I almost said shot but…)

  • CatMom
    3 years ago

    A year ago I had two Botox treatments and they began to work almost right away! The sad new is, after my two treatments, I lost my job & therefore insurance, and could not finish the three treatments I was supposed to have. The issue I have is that the cost effectiveness is far better than taking abortive meds, prophylactic meds, trips to your physician/ARNP, etc. So if it’s actually more cost-effective, why are insurance companies so resistant? Now I have to deal with Medicare & “prove” that all the aforementioned treatments have not made a dent in my, oh, about 15 migraines per month!

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Colleen, I’m sorry to hear that your treatment was interrupted. Please know that you’re not alone and that we’re here to lend support and information. We’re sending good wishes that you receive an approval from Medicare soon. Keep us informed! -All Best, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • CrystalB
    4 years ago

    Thank you for your post. I have been back and forth about Botox but finally went to Stanford and they talked about the up sides of Botox. And to hear your story just validates what they were saying. I haven’t started yet but I’m sure I will and I’m praying this is the answer I have been looking for. And of course they will definately be the right people to give the Botox injections. Thank you again for sharing.

  • dhall
    6 years ago

    It’s been a week since my first botox treatment. I didn’t have any side effects other than I feel like I have scotch tape on my forehead. I will go back for my second treatment in June. If my results are not good after that, my doctor says we stop treatment. He has 75 patients on botox for migraines and says there has been zero side effects and most are getting really good results! Praying for a migrine cure for all!

  • migrainestl
    6 years ago

    I just came across this post in a google search. I had my first Botox treatment for Chronic Migraines today. Thank you for your post about the partnership program. My Doc’s office did not mention this & I was just able to sign up online & should receive the packet in 10-14 days. Hopefully it will help offset the cost as we will be spending about $2k per year if I continue with treatments. Thankfully after $2k my ins pays 100% – just one treatment has cost us close to $1400.

  • Linda Scott-Kent
    7 years ago

    Teri. I am so thrilled the botox is working for you! My first dose of Botox was last August and it helped and lasted until December! What a blessing it was! I received ny second dose and it has not helped as much… But I have had so very much going on that I think maybe my migraine pain intensity would have been much worse without it! I am so hopeful this will be an answer for me! I have resorted to even having the hyoid bones in my neck moved…. because of a sleep apnea situation… the ENT feels I am not getting enough air and oxygene to my heart and brain…. I still have to have my toungue in the back cut and shrunk,, uvula removed Sinus cavity opened I think they call it a cpu3 surgery! The botox plus the surgery will hopefully give me a quality of life worth living! Please keep us informed on your treatments! You deserve some releif! Linda Scott-Kent

  • gettingthere
    7 years ago

    I too had Botox treatments about a month ago. Amazing! My headaches have not gone away but have definitely decreased. I used to get an excruciating migraine every week that lasted form one to three days. In the last month, I had one small headache (an hour rat an I was good to go) and one major migraine, so I am “getting there”. I have a chiari with syringomyelia, so unfortunately I will never be totally headache free, bur hey I am just thrilled to be doing better. My neurologist told me I will get better with subsequent treatments and the doctor at the pain clinic noticed the musce in my neck were more relaxed and I did not need the horrible needles I have needed in the past! So all in all I am very pleased, at first my insurance did not want to cover the cost, but i wrote a letter to appeal and I had proof they had exhausted the use of almost every medication under the sun, They will cover me for a year, then I will cross that bridge when I get to it, who knows maybe that miracle drug will be available for all of us and migraines will no longer exist, here;s to hope anyway!

  • Dawn Lloyd
    7 years ago

    I did 2 rounds of Botox treatments shortly after it was approved by the FDA for migraine treatment. The cost was between $5000-$10,000. My insurance paid all about $200, which was great. The neurologist who did the injections has been using Botox to treat migraine for 20 yrs so I trusted his expertise and near guarantee that the treatment would lessen the frequency and severity of my headaches (based on feedback from his patients.)

    Unforunately Botox injections didn’t work for me. The months following the first set of injections the frequency and severity of my migraine seemed lessened. Could have been a coinsidence, though. Naturally, some months my migraines are fewer an less severe. After the second set of shots I experienced localized pain that felt like deep bruising at the injection sites, to the point it hurt to open my eyes and my face looked old and tramatized. Looked like I aged 5 years. My eyes drooped and were baggy underneath. This lasted several months. Thank goodness the symptons subsided.

    I consulted with the doc about another brand of injectibles, a higher or lower dose of Botox or other injection sites. Based on my side effects he determined against Botox as a treatment for my migraines. Made sense to me.

    I’m glad I tried Botox, regardless of the side effects. It was a source of hope for migraine relief during a rough migraine period.

    My latest self experiment for migraine relief is Petadolox (butterbur), 50mg twice daily. I’ve had 2 mild migraines in 3 weeks that I’ve been taking it. Miraculously, Petadolox has relieved that migrainy feeling that lingers for day or weeks– that 1-3 level pain that nags before the big migraine strikes, when I finally decide to take Sumatriptin. I will continue this daily regimine of Petadolox for several more months to determine if it’s worth the money (approx $40 for 60 softgels, 50 mg each) The side effects are minimal. Some users have reported total elimination of migraines with 50mg 3x’s daily. I may try this. Otherwise, I’ll stick to Sumatriptin. It works for migraine pain but I’m still trying to find a preventative that works for me.

    For those of you contemplating Botox, I say, “Go for it.” Especially if your insurance company shoulders the majority of the cost. If it relieves your migraine pain, it’s worth it. If it doesn’t, at least you gave it a shot. No pun intended.

  • Annie
    7 years ago

    Hi, Teri!
    I’m so glad you are having such good results with Botox. Your experience sounds similar to mine. I also have the large copayment and with my last round, found some long sought after light sensitivity relief. I hope you have continued success and that each round of treatments gets better for you.

  • lara
    7 years ago

    ” It’s important that the doctor administering Botox for chronic Migraine be trained and experienced in administering Botox for Migraine.”

    This is SO very important. I had an experience where I wasn’t able to see my regular doctor who specializes in migraines and saw someone else in his office. I hurt for three months.

  • kellismith
    7 years ago

    Hi Teri,
    Thanks so much for writing about your experience with Botox. My cousin had it several months ago and had good results to start. I’m going to email her and ask her to come here and comment if she has a moment about her experience. I am seriously considering trying it. I feel like over the past 10 years, I have certainly progressed into chronic migraine from episodic… and it’s effecting my quality of life more than ever. I just have this irrational fear that if I inject anything, what if it makes things worse… and it takes months for the effects to fade. But, I’ve never heard anyone so far talk about the Botox making their pain worse… mostly that they either have excellent or moderate positive results, or no change at all. Have you heard of anyone having negative effects (other than cosmetic) in terms of making their migraines worse? I don’t know why I’m so fearful… it’s a bit silly.

    Another great point to note with Botox is that Allergan pledged to stop testing Botox on animals. I was reluctant to try anything I knew was an “experiment” for my migraines knowing about the animal testing… not that my other meds are not likely tested on animals, I’m sure many are… but as a “cosmetic” drug to start out with I had a little more trouble with it. Just an FYI of course… http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/10/health/la-he-animal-testing-20110718

  • Tammy Rome
    7 years ago

    This is such good news! I am so glad they are working for you. After all you’ve done for the migraine community, you deserve a second happy ending. Fingers crossed for continued improvement!

  • Teri-Robert author
    7 years ago

    Thanks, Tammy! Dr. Watson and I are both hopeful that I’ll see cumulative effects and better results as we continue the treatments.

  • MigraineSuz
    7 years ago

    I received my first treatment in January. I can tell in a decrease in the severity of the migraines. I am hoping the frequency will drop with additional treatments. I can tell it works for me because I can chew gum again (which has always triggered a migraine) and I can wear ponytails again (also triggered migraines). I plan to continue as long as I can. I won’t like, though. The injections hurt.

  • Teri-Robert author
    7 years ago

    Yep, they do hurt. It’s also not consistent how much they hurt. I found that the injections hurt worse during my second treatment. Go figure! Still, it’s worth it. Here’s hoping it works better for you as you receive more treatments.

  • DebbyJ56
    7 years ago

    I have been getting Botox every three months for two yrs. It has not helped my migraine pain or frequency at all. It does however, help the pain I get in my neck, head, and shoulders.
    The last two times I got injections in my forhead, it made my eyes droop. The last time I could barely open my eyes for two months. So this last time he did not inject my forhead.

  • Teri-Robert author
    7 years ago

    Ugh. Sorry you had that side effect. That sounds really unpleasant. Have the injections continued to help? Hope so!

  • Kate
    7 years ago

    I have been very pleased with my Botox treatment for chronic migraine. I have been on the program for over a year and now get my injections once every 4 months instead of the original 3 month intervals. I still get a few migraines, but they are reduced in frequency and intensity. I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone but if you are thinking about trying it, and you can get it covered by insurance, its worth talking to your migraine specialist about it and giving it a try.

  • Teri-Robert author
    7 years ago

    Hi, Kate!
    Glad it’s helping you too! 🙂

  • marlenerossman
    7 years ago

    I had over 30 Botox shots to the “migraine trigger points in my head.” It was a total and unmitigated disaster. My insurance did not cover it and the whole experience was useless. I should have taken the money and put the Botox into my wrinkles. Think twice before you undertake this treatment.

  • Teri-Robert author
    7 years ago

    I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. Sadly, researchers haven’t been able to find anything yet that works for even a majority of us. They’re looking at a new class of meds that looks promising but they’re still a long way to a finished product. Did you know in advance that your insurance wouldn’t cover it? I hope so. That wouldn’t have been a good surprise to find out after the fact.

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