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I have so many friends and family ask about the Botox injections I get for my migraines. I thought it would be helpful to tell my personal story of Botox and how it has significantly improved my quality of life with migraines.

I am not a medical professional, just someone who suffers from chronic and severe migraine headaches. This post is not sponsored. 

Botox for Migraines: Does it Work?

I’ve had migraines for about 20 years now. I suffer from two different variations of migraine:

  1. Tension-induced: Starts as knots in the muscles in my upper back and shoulders and the migraine pain travels up to my head. This headache feels like a painful “charlie horse” in my upper back and shoulders, and a painful cramp that travels up into my head. I get these when I grind or clench my teeth, get stressed about something, lift something heavy, or exercise my upper body (causing my muscles to tighten).
  2. Traditional Migraine: Starts as flashing lights, strange smells, or loss of peripheral vision. These often feel like an “ice cream headache” or “brain freeze.” I get these… whenever they feel like coming, to be honest. I wish I knew when they were brewing.

When I’ve had a #1 migraine for too long, I’ll for sure get a #2 migraine. That will cause stress and the #1 migraine again. This was a daily cycle for me.

Before Botox, I’d get a migraine and it would stay for days, weeks, and sometimes months–even if I took medicine for it. The medicine would help for a few hours and then I’d be back in bed, miserable. I tried everything to get rid of them.

I exercised, but could do no upper body work. The limit for my weights was 3 pound dumbbells in each hand. Any more than that and my muscles would knot up and start the cycle again.

During some of this time, I had young kids–so picking them up was horribly painful and had long-lasting effects. Finally, I decided that something had to help. Though my Neurologist had been recommending Botox for years and I wasn’t a fan of trying it, I decided I’d give it a shot (pun intended!).

I received my first Botox injections for my migraines in 2013. 30-something injections in the forehead, scalp, neck, and upper back. I didn’t notice a huge difference at first, and actually, I wasn’t happy with it at all for the first three months. The Botox “deadened” the muscles in my eyebrows and forehead, making me look a little silly (in my opinion).

After talking with my doctor, we decided that next time she would begin the injections under my hair–none in my face. We also decided that the injections she skipped in my forehead would be placed between my shoulder blades to help with the muscles knotting and starting migraines there. After three months, the 2nd round of Botox was given. I noticed a difference, finally.

Now, I can do so many things I couldn’t do before. I can lift weights–actual barbells. I’m stronger and healthier than I was before. I can spend time with my kids on the weekends and after school, I can prep meals on Sundays, and I can take my dogs for walks.

Some of these I have to modify a little, but they’re all things I couldn’t do before Botox. There are still many things I can’t do, and I’ve learned to be ok with that. For example, I can’t work for extended periods of time. I can’t sit in one position for too long, especially if my neck is turned. I can’t wear hats or even a ponytail holder for more than an hour or so. And sometimes I have to cut my workouts short because my head starts to hurt too much.

My migraines aren’t gone–I still get many more than most people who suffer from them. I’ll never have a “normal” life like I knew before my migraines began, but my migraines are more manageable now than they were before Botox, and that’s a win for both me and my family.

FAQs about Botox and Migraines

  1. Do the injections hurt? Yes, but not nearly as much as daily migraines do. I get about 15 in my scalp and 15 in my neck and upper back. They hurt in my scalp, and I can actually hear the injection going in–kind of gross. But, I deal because it helps so much.
  2. Aren’t you worried about the chemicals you’re putting in your body? I sure am. But, the life I had before Botox wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I’d rather take the risks and have a better quality of life.
  3. Are your migraines completely gone? Not even close. But I’ve gone from being incapacitated 5-6 days a week to about 3-4 days a week. My migraine medicine works now to get rid of a headache so I can function “normally” for a bit. I might get another migraine the next day, but I’m not living with one all day every day like I was.
  4. Are you taking other medicine in conjunction with the Botox? I take daily prophylactic medicines to keep my migraines away as well as a pill called Relpax when I get a migraine. It took years of Neurologist and pain management center visits to come up with what works for me. The Botox wouldn’t work without the other meds, and of course, they don’t work without the Botox.
  5. Is Botox for migraines covered by insurance? Yes, it is for me.
  6. Who do I need to talk to about Botox? Though I am in no way a medical professional, I recommend talking with a Neurologist to see if Botox is an option for you.
  7. What are the side effects of Botox? I don’t notice any negative side effects from Botox.
  8. Do you have to get Botox every three months? I’ve been told that it’s important to get the injections every 3 months–Botox takes a bit to build up in your system and waiting longer than three months can cause the Botox to taper off (and then take longer to build up again). I’m usually ok for about a week after that three month mark, then I start feeling pretty miserable again.

I’m always happy to answer any questions you have, and I love hearing about others who have tried Botox.

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  1. It is so wonderful to hear about your experience with Botox for migraines. You see, I am a long time sufferer of migraines but mine stem from a car accident when I was a child and it left scar tissue on my brain. When I was involved in what I consider a small fender bender as an adult, it shook up the scar tissue and have suffered ever since. I am on my third year of Botox and absolutely swear by it. I spent almost 2 years being house bound aside from doctors visits and multiple trips to the ER for migraines. They had me so drugged up at one point that I was no longer a functioning adult to my husband or kids, it was horrible!! I finally broke down and tried the Botox. After a few rounds and moving the injections to different areas, we finally found the “sweet spots” so to speak. I have since been weened off all medications except the ones I take for an occasional migraine. I have my life back and my family back. It’s like being an entirely different person, a human being. I just wanted to share my story with you and let you know how great it is to hear your story. I hope others who suffer will read your blog and at least talk to their doctor about Botox. I know it has been a life saver for me. Cheers!!

  2. Lisa Sanders says:

    OMG I might actually have some results. I just had botox 12 days ago, no relief and it made my migraines worse. I suffer from migraines daily, they never go away 24/7. They keep me up at night and I do not eat. I can still function but I have to push myself to do everything and act like I am OK. After reading this blog I might try another round just to see if it takes 2 rounds to brake to cycle. My Neurologist believes these are from my Fibromyalia but I am beginning to think it is from my neck and/or spine. I am so glad I found your blog I might actually have hope and not have to move into a box.

    1. How are you feeling now, Lisa? Any better?

  3. I love your post. I am/have been suffering since having my 2nd child. I tried botox for the first time and I see some results. Not perfect, but better than it was. I may try your option of not going in the face. I do not like how I look either haha. Thank you so much. I though I was alone for so long.

    1. It makes me so happy that my story could help you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions ;)

  4. staci alspaugh says:

    i have been getting Botox for over a year , i have Arnolds Chiari Malformation 1 and 2 i have severe migraines that before Botox i was i dark room in bed with a bucket, was not a life i wanted to live . could not do anything . But i moved to anursing facility that has helped me and now i se my Migraine specialist regularly whicn before i didnt even have a specialist . i recieve Botox yes it does hurt not going to lie but much rather have that than what i was going threw. i go every 12 weeks i can always tell when its time ill have a small headache brewing week half befor time for appointment.

  5. Ann Toney says:

    Just FYI The company of Botox at this time has a savings card. That helps me with the cost of the injections. And I have less migraines and if I have one it ismanageable or goes away with other medicine. Where before it would be days lost inbed.

  6. I too get the injections and they are painful. I use to get them on the back of my neck but doctor decided against it because we are sure of the side effects.

    Do you have any side effects from the neck/shoulder injections??

    BTW: I went from 6-15 migraines a month to 1 every six months since the injections.

    I got my life back.

    1. I haven’t had any ill effects of my neck and shoulder injections, but I often wonder if it could have something to do with the awful knots I get in my upper back. The injections are supposed to help them, but I wonder if it makes them worse.

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