I just had a patient tell me she usually doesn’t get headaches, until recently. She realized that the last time she got a headache coincided with her neurotoxin (Botox) wearing off. She thought it was just a coincidence that her stress headache came on a few months after her previous Botox treatment. Based on that hunch, she scheduled an appointment and came in for her usual Botox (botulinum toxin) treatment. Little did she know, this wasn’t just a coincidence – this was science!
How Botox treats headaches
Several years ago a plastic surgeon noticed that when he performed a brow lift and removed the small muscles that create the 11’s (wrinkles in between the eyebrows – a normal procedure during a brow lift), the patient came back cured of their headaches. Not every patient had that experience but enough for him to notice something “was up.” After years of cadaver dissections and more surgery, he realized that some muscles compress nerves in the scalp that cause headaches.
So he started treating patients with botulinum toxin. The idea was that if Botox can relax muscles that cause facial wrinkles, it could also relax muscles that compress nerves that cause headaches. With the muscle relaxed and pressure removed from the nerve, the headache wouldn’t occur.
What’s interesting is that this makes Botox both diagnostic and therapeutic. If you have a headache that is relieved with Botox injections, it has provided a diagnosis that your headaches are caused by nerve compression. At the same time, the Botox has treated your headache and is therapeutic. Assume a chest X-ray diagnosed and treated pneumonia. Of course that doesn’t happen, but that what Botox in the case of nerve-compression headaches.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s headaches are as simple to treat with neurotoxins, but maybe you’re one of the “lucky” ones. To find a doctor near you that treats headaches with Botox and to check pricing, click here.