Chronic Migraines — Better with Botox?

Chronic Migraines — Better with Botox?

Pounding, debilitating, chronic migraines may qualify for an unexpected treatment: Botox.

Merle Diamond, MD, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic, has used Botox for more than 10 years to treat patients’ migraines. She considers the drug safe, easy, and affordable — decreasing the number of headaches people experience by more than half. Private insurance and Medicare typically cover the injections every 90 days.

“There are 31 injections with a little tiny needle — an insulin-size needle — that feels sort of like a sting of a mosquito and doesn’t last very long,” Diamond says. The 10-minute procedure involves injections in the forehead, temples, and back of the head and neck.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox for chronic migraines — a minimum of 15 days of headaches each month — in 2010. Diamond speculates that Botox use will eventually expand to other types of headaches.

She says the only side effect she has seen is drooping of the eyebrow if the provider makes an injection too close to the brow. However, other reported side effects include: headache or flulike symptoms, dry or watering eyes, eyelid or side of the mouth drooping, and drooling.

“Botox is a phenomenal option for patients. It really has very few side effects, and it works effectively,” Diamond says.

Originally published in the Fall 2022/Winter 2023 print issue.