Botox for Chronic Migraine

botox chronic migraine
Mary Schwenn, ORA Orthopedics

Botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, is known by most people as an injection used to combat wrinkles and fine lines. However, for ORA Nurse Practitioner Mary Schwenn, ARNP, these injections are not used for cosmetic purposes, but for pain management.

As a provider at the ORA Pain Center of Excellence, Mary loves to help her patients manage their pain. She has recently introduced Botox injections to a limited number of patients with chronic migraines with some success.

As ORA continues to grow the program, she understands individuals may have questions about how Botox treats chronic migraine pain. 

What do you use Botox for at ORA?

At ORA, Botox injections are approved for the prevention of chronic migraines.

What is a chronic migraine?

Chronic migraines are different than a bad headache. Patients with chronic migraines have 15 or more headache days a month, and over four hours of headaches per headache day. They are usually debilitating, especially if patients are not receiving the best treatment to relieve their pain.

Is Botox for chronic migraine safe?

Botox is a well-studied medication. It has been available for medical use in the United States for over 30 years. In 2010, the FDA approved Botox for treating adults with chronic migraines. If patients do experience side effects, the most common ones would be neck pain or a temporary headache following treatment.

What is treatment like?

At the ORA Pain Center, patients can expect their first appointment to take about 15 minutes. Treatment involves a series of injections using a very small needle into the tiny muscles under your skin throughout various areas around your face, head, and neck. The needle is very thin and the injections are shallow and have a feeling similar to a pinprick. You might get injections in your forehead, temples, and the back or your head and neck. We may also inject areas called “trigger points’ where the headache pain originates.

However, before any treatment begins, you will need to schedule a consultation to determine if you are a candidate for these injections. Additionally, most insurance companies have a rigorous pre-authorization process prior to insurance approving payment for treatment.

How long will it take to expect results?

Patients may start to feel results as early as a couple of weeks. However, the full effects of Botox may take more than one injection cycle. It is standard to start with two treatments approximately 12 weeks apart. After your second cycle, we will evaluate and see how the injections are working. It’s important not to miss any cycles or avoid any of the injection sites for optimal results. 

Pain Center Team
Mary Schwenn with Dr. Sanjay Sundar and ORA’s Pain Management staff.

As a pain management provider, what is one great benefit that comes from this treatment?

There are many benefits, however one of the greatest benefits is that patients become more functional after receiving these Botox injections. Whether that is taking less time off of work due to the migraines, engaging in more activities with their families, or simply getting back to the hobbies they enjoy without the pain or worry about another migraine. 

What is your favorite thing about helping your patients?

Working in a pain clinic can be stressful because you are witnessing the pain of others firsthand. Chronic medical conditions, like migraines, affect so much of a person’s life. For example, I may see a patient eight or nine times and every time I can tell right away if they are feeling down. It is my mission to help them find relief.

So, when a patient tells me that something worked, or they smile and say, “I finally feel better,” it’s so rewarding. It’s great to see the work we do at ORA making a difference in someone’s life. Knowing that I play a part in that victory fills me with joy.

Contact ORA today and schedule a consultation to see if you would be a candidate for Botox injections for chronic migraines. Insurance coverage for these treatments may vary, so please verify benefit coverage with your insurance company before scheduling your appointment.