Can muscle relaxant injections prevent migraines?
If you’re someone who suffers from migraines or other forms of chronic headache, you’ve probably tried all sort of treatments to prevent that familiar and debilitating pain from taking hold.
Studies have shown that migraine affects over 3 million Australians, and it is thought that more women suffer migraine than men due to hormonal factors.
According to Migraine and Headache Australia, a migraine is a neurological disorder that causes a one-sided throbbing or pulsating headache that is at least moderately intense and can be aggravated by physical activity.
Research into treating migraine and other types of chronic headache with muscle relaxant has shown that it can be surprisingly effective as a preventative. Despite migraine being a brain disorder and not a disorder of muscles, studies have shown that during a migraine attack muscles are in fact very contracted. It is thought that muscle relaxing injections work by easing those tight muscles.
Commonly asked questions about migraine injections
Dr Nici Williams answers some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to using muscle relaxants to prevent migraine.
How many injections does each treatment involve, and what are the areas injected?
Many clinical research studies have been done into the use of botulinum toxin to treat chronic headache. Several areas can be targeted, depending on the root cause of your particular headache. These may include treating the forehead, the temples, the frown complex, the muscles at the back of the head, as well as the upper back and neck muscles.
Does it hurt?
A tiny needle is used to perform the injections, so it is not overly painful. You may experience a brief burning sensation at each site of injection, but this is very brief, and the procedure is generally very well tolerated. There is no downtime at all, and most people return to their daily activities immediately following the appointment.
When can I expect improvement?
It’s not uncommon for the treatment's effects to kick in a week following the procedure, however many people experience some relief within a few days. Some patients require two or even three treatments to obtain relief from their symptoms. However, if no improvement is noted after this time, then these patients are unlikely to be suitable for ongoing treatments.
What are the potential side effects of muscle relaxant migraine injection treatment?
Botulinum toxin is very safe, and there are no major or harmful long term side effects. Occasionally there might be some neck pain or stiffness following treatment, as surrounding muscles try and compensate for the muscles that have been treated and are now relaxed. If this were to happen, it resolves within a few days to weeks, and an anti-inflammatory might be beneficial.
How often should I have a treatment?
Treatments last three to four months, so a treatment schedule of three to four times a year is recommended. In practice, after several treatments, many patients will improve to the point where the treatment can be discontinued without relapse to chronic headache.
If you’re someone who suffers from regular migraines or other forms of headache and you’d like to discuss muscle relaxant migraine injection treatment with Dr Nici, contact our clinic so we can book you in for a consultation.