Hey you! I’m guessing if you’re reading this, maybe you have a problem with migraines. I’m with ya girl. I have been getting Botox for about a year now and I wanted to share my experience in case you’re thinking it may be for you.
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What is Botox?
Botox, also called botulinum toxin type A, is made from the bacteria that causes botulism. This has always scared me because I remember learning about it in microbiology and it’s capabilities to paralyze the nervous system. Botulism has been traced in the history books back to the 1700’s. Fun Fact: It was named after the Latin word for sausage (botulus) after an outbreak in Germany in 1735 that was believed to have stemmed from contaminated German sausage. After doing a ton of research, I learned that Botox can be safe when handled properly in extra small doses to precise, targeted areas.
How It Works?
Botulinum toxin blocks nerve activity in the muscles, causing a temporary reduction in muscle activity. Since some patient’s experience pain from agitated nerves, it is thought that releasing the muscles that surround these nerves will decrease that agitation and decrease pain. It can also work by turning off the nerve signals in those areas. With migraines, your trigger can be caused by a multitude of things, and nerve sensitivity may be a main one.
Why I Get Botox
If you read my post about chronic pain (you can find it here) you know that my migraines are caused by neuralgia of three main nerve systems in my scalp, neck, and face. This lead me to have migraines almost every day of the week. I had exhausted the medicinal options and reached my wit’s end. To qualify for Botox injections for migraines, you need to suffer headache symptoms at least 15 days per month. That is half of the year that is taken away from you by pain.
Here is breakdown for qualifications:
1. 18 years or older.
2. 15 or more headache days per month.
3. 8 of those headache days associated to a migraine.
4. Each headache lasting 4 or more hours.
Injections are quick and injected every 12 weeks with a very tiny needle similar to an insulin syringe. Botox is injected into shallow muscles, not too deeply beneath the skin. Each treatment involves 31 injections in 7 key areas of the head and neck. It usually takes me less than 10 minutes and I have been fortunate to not have any skin reactions or adverse reactions to my injections. They do feel like tiny pinpricks and most just have a stinging sensation. Some of my more tender areas do hurt a tad bit more but mostly because they were already on fire before we got started. Because you are having something injected into the skin, you may see slight swelling or bleeding right after the injections but this typically subsides quickly.
You will most likely not notice any changes to your headache frequency for 2-3 weeks after treatment. I wasn’t even sure if it was even helping. I had changed up many things in my diet and lifestyle around the same time so I wasn’t sure what to attribute my decrease in severity to. 12 weeks later, I went back for my second treatment. Same story, different day. In and out and the wait for changes. I still couldn’t tell if it was helping. My number of headache days had majorly decreased and I was only hurting maybe once per week. Mind you, I was also getting deem muscle nerve blocks in the back of my scalp, and I had changed to a low-sodium diet.
Where I Am Now
Flash forward to now, where my headache days have increased to 4 days per week and a general burning all over my scalp every day. It’s made me down and slightly depressed again because who the hell wants to hurt every single day? Not this girl! I am still on my same diet and I have made no changes to my habits or lifestyle. I didn’t know what was up. Then it hit me. I missed a Botox injection appt. a few months ago. I remember now. My doctor had to cancel and then I went to Europe on vacation and totally forgot about rescheduling.
I also wasn’t thinking it was helping and I would be fine without the injections. I was so very wrong. Injections can take months to wear off after stopping treatment and I am about 6 months out from my last injections. Well, I guess now I know that they were doing something for me, in conjunction with my other interventions and meds. I have already scheduled my next round of injections 2 weeks from now. I honestly can’t wait.
Stress reduction can also help headache symptoms. Read my post about using ASMR for stress reduction here.
Botox out-of-pocket can be upwards of $2,000 but can be covered by insurance and this is where meeting those qualifications comes in. Of course, they are going to want you to have tried other interventions (cheaper options for your insurance. Ugh that is so annoying, insurance companies!) before giving you the green light. Botox also offers a savings card that gives you a cash reimbursement that you can use toward your next round of injections and really help you cut the cost (some to $400!) off the out-of-pocket expense. You can find the savings card website here.
Please, please, please do your research and find a reputable healthcare provider for these injections. You do not want this medication improperly injected or mishandled. I will link the Botox webpage to find a certified Botox provider here. Also, please follow the instructions given to you for your restrictions post-injection. I will provide the list for you here, but your provider may have an extended list to this. You spent the money, endured 31 total injections, so please do yourself the favor of getting the most out of your investment by following the guidelines. It irritates me to no end when people don’t do things how they are supposed to and then gripe when it doesn’t work out.
I can only tell you my story and I don’t know if this will work for you. I am in no way telling you to go out and get Botox tomorrow. Nor am I paid for or sponsored to write this post. Each person is different and only you know what you are going through. Please discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your doctor. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve had Botox or your thoughts on pain, migraines, treatment options. I love hearing from you!
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