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Botox For Tension Headaches

If you don't like to rely on medication for headaches and migraines, this may be a better option for you, and it has anti-aging benefits.

I have a tension headache between my eyebrows and I blame several things. 

First thing: staring at my work computer. 

Second: Squinting under the fluorescent lights on my work computer. 

Third: the facial expressions I make while reading under the fluorescent light on my work computer. 

The only solution is to stop straining the muscles that are causing the pain. But how?

"Botulinum toxin reduces tension by preventing muscles from contracting or being in a state of constant tension," says Dr. Benjamin Balankin, Toronto dermatologist, founder and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre. 

Unlike medications and other treatments that treat symptoms, Botox is a preventive treatment. It inhibits the use of muscles that can cause tension headaches, thereby preventing the pain from exiting.

The use of Botox for health purposes is nothing new  (Health Canada approved the use of the injection for migraine headaches back in 2011 (2017, according to the American Academy of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), and it is even more accepted as a treatment option). 

In fact, Botox is used globally to treat millions of people with a variety of health conditions, Dr. Balankin. 

I had Dr. Balankin just ask about any neurotic concerns you might have about using Botox for tension headaches and migraines. 

How Exactly Does Botox Prevent Tension Headaches? 

Does it freeze specific muscles from being used?

"Botulinum toxin is effective in reducing tension wherever it is injected," says Dr. Balankin. "It stops or significantly reduces signaling between nerves and muscles." Migraine Pain

How is the procedure for taking Botox for a health condition different from taking Botox for anti-aging purposes?

They differ in a few points. First, the doses for treating health problems are higher than cosmetic effects, says Dr. Balankin. Second, many health plans pay for some or all of the cost of Botox for health purposes.

The procedure is similar because some of the injection points are the same, Dr. Balankin. So you end up with a double benefit (read: pain relief and anti-aging effects).

Where is it usually injected to treat tension headaches and migraines?

Doctors say it depends on where the patient has the headache and where the pain is. Balankin. Typically, these spots are located on the forehead, around the eyes, on the temples and behind the neck.

How often do I need an injection?

About once every three months.

Does Botox lose its effectiveness after a certain number of treatments?

A small percentage of people find that Botox loses its potency over time, which means their dose may need to be increased, Dr. Balankin. However, there are other products on the market right now that have similar effects to Botox, and more are coming soon (including topical ones). So there are plenty of alternative avenues to explore, he said.

Since Botox freezes the muscles in the forehead, is it possible to overload other muscles, causing wrinkles in other areas (like the "rabbit nose" line or the line around the mouth)?

This shouldn't be possible when Botox is administered by a dermatologist, says Dr. Barankin

I read on Vogue that Botox can thin the skin and make you look older - is this true?

"It can treat headaches if used regularly in the temples over the years," says Dr. Balankin. "It can make the area appear more hollow, which is a sign of aging." When that happens, he says, it can be easily corrected with just a dab of putty.