Botox as Medicine?

By Lisa-Marie

Thirty-one Botox injections in my head every three months.

Not to look prettier.
Not to look younger.

To be in less pain.

Botox is traditionally thought of as celebrities’ tool to be camera-ready, often resulting in “frozen face” syndrome. Few realize what true power Botox holds in the medical community.

What is Botox?

Botox is essentially a diluted form of the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. In nature, so to speak, it contains powerful paralyzingly abilities. However, in small doses, it contains the ability to relax muscles in the head, leading to fewer muscle spasms, and therefore fewer migraines.

The FDA approved Botox as a preventative migraine treatment in July 2010 and now thousands of migraine patients have experienced the benefits of it. Botox is only approved to treat chronic migraine, however, so does not work effectively for episodic and other types of migraine.

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(Above: A diagram showing injection points for Botox treatment, via MSSC)

Getting to the “Point”

I grew up fainting at the thought of needles. Yet after getting to the point of being in bed in pain more often than not, and trying countless medicines, Botox seemed to be the best new option to explore.

November 2016 was my first Botox treatment. Oddly enough, I cried not from fear, but from excitement. Excitement that I could gain a life that I’ve never experienced before: one with less chronic pain. I could gain a life that is taken for granted by many. I could exercise more, study better, improve my social life, and most of all, strengthen my mental health.

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(Above: Me after a Botox treatment. You can faintly see the red, swollen marks on my forehead from the injections.)

After the first treatment, I couldn’t drive home. I felt an unusual ache in my head that left me stiff. Patiently, I waited two weeks to see the affects begin to kick in. Although the number of migraines didn’t seem to decrease, the intensity was definitely lessened.

My second treatment was in February 2017. I was even more excited what life would follow this one because the second treatment is where, traditionally, progress begins to be seen.

Once again, the severity decreased. Even the number began to decrease from 3-4 migraines a week to 1-2! One day, I was completely pain free: a curious miracle. I’ve never known what it’s like to not be foggy or have constant pressure in my head.

A Hopeful Future

June 2017, my third and most recent treatment, left me with good and bad news. Bad news: Botox doesn’t treat every day headaches. Good news: I should keep seeing more and more progress with every new treatment, and some migraine relief is better than no migraine relief. Trust me.

All in all, Botox began as a judgmental fear and turned into a cry of joy in my life. Botox has given me hope that something could help me. It’s not a cure. There is no cure. But anything that helps me hold some control of my life is a miracle to me.


Sources:
https://www.migrainetrust.org/living-with-migraine/treatments/botox/
http://www.headachesurgery.com/botox-and-nerve-blocks-for-migraine-headaches-and-occipital-neuralgia/
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