Are Injections The Only Treatment Option for Migraines?

I recently received an email asking me, “Are injections my only treatment option for migraine?” With all of the new injectables recently on the market, I thought this would make an interesting blog topic. So here goes.

Migraine relief has long been focused on taking pain medications, making lifestyle changes and avoiding certain foods that may trigger an attack.

Along these same lines, a recent study by the American Academy of Neurology is suggesting injections may be the answer for migraineurs. And while doctors, researchers, and migraineurs discuss injections as a possible migraine treatment option, we can’t ignore the potential risks and other safety concerns.

What Are Injections?

According to some of the research, the main type of injection that may help with migraine is Botox.

Yes, that Botox. It was discovered by accident that Botox (the drug used to reduce fine lines and wrinkles) offers relief to some symptoms of migraine, but the safety of this treatment option is up for debate.

In addition to Botox, several other drugs have been developed to treat migraine through injections:

●       Erenumab

●       Galcanezumab

●       Fremanezumab

The FDA has approved all of these drugs which reportedly help control the neurochemicals released when a migraine is coming. These drugs block calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which plays a role in sending pain signals to the brain during a migraine attack.

Are Injections Safe?

Botox and other injections for migraine are a relatively new development that we’re still learning. Although some of the studies have shown injections can reduce the frequency and pain associated with migraine, we don’t know what (if any) the long-term effects of these injections may be.

If you’re considering injections, blocking CGRP, which is what those drugs do, could negatively affect certain parts of your body, including the cardiovascular system, skin, digestive system, and pituitary gland.  While many of the studies mention “no known long-term effects,” we must consider the potential risks more closely as migraineurs because we’re often more sensitive to chemical changes than others.

Many safe, effective, natural treatments can both prevent and reduce the symptoms of migraine, and I encourage you to look into these first.

The Dangers of Injections

The American Migraine Foundation reports, some of the most common side effects of injections are pain and numbness at the injection site. Others have experienced infection, bleeding, light-headedness, loss of hair, and loss of muscle mass at the site of injection.

The potential risks and side effects are cause for concern, at least until we can see more unbiased research and case studies.

The holistic migraine treatment options available are not only safe but extremely effective when done consistently.

Alternative Options for Migraine Relief

Try these alternative options to remedy your migraine symptoms, from acupressure on the feet to aromatherapy and determining your specific migraine triggers.

As we’ve discussed in the past, specific migraine triggers and treatments vary from person to person. You may have to try several regimens before you find what works – patience is key. Unfortunately, many migraineurs become reliant on pain medications and other less safe treatment options rather than looking for natural migraine relief because of the time investment. 

As a physician and migraineur, I would encourage you to make the time.  Your well-being is worth it.

Some other safe, holistic measures that can help treat migraine include:

●       Acupuncture

●       Meditation and other stress management techniques

●       Biofeedback

●       Yoga

●       Herbs and supplements


Migraine Again – 7 Things You Need to Know Before Getting Botox for Migraine

The Daily Beast – A Breakthrough Injection Could Reduce Number of Migraines Patients Suffer by 50 Percent

Migraine Resource Center – Erenumab May Reduce Headache Days in Episodic MigraineHealthline – The FDA Has Approved Three New Migraine Drugs