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Can Botox help treat your migraines?

Botox might be synonymous to anti-aging cosmetic treatment injected to patients, who want to straighten out unwanted wrinkles.

But there is a growing consensus that Botox can actually help in treating pesky migraines.

"Definitely puwede," said Dr.Rogie Ignacio-Alcantara, a neurologist at Makati Medical Center.

"Botox tends to relax the muscles, that is its main tenet. Puwede ka mag-inject ng Botox sa trigger points like sa head and neck [to treat it]," she adds.

Where Botox helps, Ignacio-Alcantara said, is in the reduction of the frequency and severity of the migraine. "It technically reduces the pain," she said. "It's for pain management."

Dr. Kaycee Reyes, a holistic wellness doctor at the Luminisce Clinic in BGC explains, "Botox is a muscle relaxant. It's been there for neurological disorders like uncontrollable ticks for instance. Hanggang nakita nila yung cosmetic benefits — nawawala yung lines — sometime in the '80s. It started becoming popular in the '90s for aesthetic purposes," she explains.

Reyes says she's actually already done Botox treatment for migrainers," injecting it in the temporalis, the temporal muscles of the head, to treat patients with migraine."

Both Reyes and Ignacio-Alcantara however clarify injecting Botox is not as easy as taking a pill. "You have to get injections every 4-6 months to relax the muscles, since usually migraines involve the contraction of muscles. So you put it to relax it, para hindi siya masyado painful," Reyes says.

Ignacio-Alcantara clarifies further, Botox treatment is considered for those experiencing chronic migraine, that is, those who experience migraine attacks for more than 15 days a month.

"After the initial treatment, an assessment will need to be made to see if it's really effective. It needs to convert your headache from chronic to episodic," she says.

Dr. Hazel Zuellig, a practicing neurologist at the Brain Institute of Cardinal Santos Medical Center and in Centre Medicale Internationale in Bonifacio Global City,  acknowledges that "there are proponents for Botox as migraine treatment" but she says it's is mostly for muscle tension headaches, the other common type of headache usually characterized by heaviness and tightness that often occur late in the afternoon.

Unlike migraines that sometimes just occur on one side of the head and characterized by throbbing and accompanied by nausea, tension headaches are "sometimes described like may suot na headband. It's more tightness, no vomitting, none of the neuorological deficits. It's like muscle inflammation, para lang siyang stiff neck," she said.

"So Botox is mostly better and more advised for it," Zuellig said.

Among other things, it seems. Because Botox paralyzes the muscles, Reyes shares "there are patients with back pain who ask for Botox injections in their back, para mabawasan yung contraction ng muscles at mabasawasan yung pain."

Depending on the depth at with it is injected, doctors can target sweat and oil glands to help in treating profuse sweating. Reyes says, "I've done it for people with sweaty scalps and even underarms, especially in the summer."

But Ignacio-Alcantara warns Botox treatment can be expensive. "It's per unit, per injection so that's about P10,000-P12,000. And you inject all points in the head kaya rin masakit."   

If you think you're experiencing headaches, it's best to see a neurologist before getting Botoxed or take yet another pill.

"You have to be careful to differentiate between headaches because the treatments are different," Zuellig says. — GMA News