Does Botox work for Sinus Headaches?

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Written By Dr. Carlos Roberto Babá

MD, PhD. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician from São Paulo - Brazil. Pain Fellowship in University of São Paulo.

Botox for Chronic Migraine

Botox is FDA-approved specifically for chronic migraine, defined as at least 15 headache days a month, with a minimum of eight migraine days.

It is not a go-to treatment for all migraine (or sinus headache) patients but has proven to be highly effective for chronic migraine sufferers. Insurance coverage for Botox can be delayed if a patient has not tried a medication from each category, which can be frustrating for both patients and healthcare providers.

How Botox Works

botox migraine sinus headache

Botox is a type of botulinum toxin A, which works by targeting nerve-muscle interactions. Nerves release acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which then binds to muscle receptors and initiates muscle contractions.

Botox prevents the release of acetylcholine by inhibiting the vesicle fusion process, effectively paralyzing the target muscle and reducing sinus headache migraine frequency and intensity.

Myths and Misconceptions about Botox

  1. Botox is not a new treatment for migraines: Botox has been FDA approved for the treatment of chronic migraines since 2010, and I have personally been injecting Botox since 2005.
  2. Botox injections do not contain bacteria: Botox is a purified protein derived from the neurotoxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. You will not be injected with the bacteria itself.
  3. Botox is not for your lips: Botox weakens muscles, and while it can have cosmetic effects on wrinkles, it is not used for lip enhancement. Dermal fillers, not Botox, are used for lip augmentation.
  4. Unused Botox must be discarded: The FDA has approved 155 units of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraines. Botox comes in 50, 100, or 200 unit vials. Consequently, 45 units must be discarded after each treatment. Using leftover Botox for another patient is considered insurance fraud.
  5. Botox effects are temporary: Botox remains in your system for about three to four months. If you experience side effects or benefits, they will only last for this duration. This is why injections are administered every three months.

Challenges with Botox Treatment for Sinus Headaches

botox migraine sinus headache pain
  1. Pre-authorization: Obtaining insurance pre-authorization for Botox treatment can be time-consuming and challenging for clinic staff. Some clinics even charge patients a fee for this service.
  2. Copays and co-insurance: Some patients may have concerns about the cost of copays or co-insurance for Botox treatments. However, considering the cost of the medication and the benefits it can provide, the treatment is often worthwhile.

How Botox Works in Treating Chronic Migraines

Botox works by blocking the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in muscle contraction. When Botox is injected into specific muscles, it can help prevent the muscle contractions that contribute to sinus headaches (migraines).

The FDA-approved protocol for treating chronic migraines involves injecting Botox at specific points, as determined by the PREEMPT Protocol, which was developed through clinical trials.

The PREEMPT Protocol and Injection Process

The PREEMPT Protocol, developed through the clinical trials called PREEMPT One and-PREEMPT Two, is the standard method for administering Botox for chronic migraine treatment.

This protocol involves a total of 31 injections at specific points on the head, neck, and shoulders. These injections are typically performed using a thin, 30-gauge needle, causing minimal discomfort.

Any pain experienced during the procedure usually comes from the Botox solution itself, not the needle.

Potential Side Effects and Considerations

While Botox has been shown to be effective in treating chronic migraines, there are some potential side effects to consider. The most common side effects include temporary muscle weakness and discomfort at the injection site.

Some patients may also experience a transient flu-like reaction. Serious side effects, such as breathing difficulties and swallowing issues, are mentioned in the package insert but are extremely rare for patients receiving Botox for chronic migraine treatment.

Botox for Torticollis (Cervical Dystonia)

Botox is also used to treat torticollis, a condition where the neck muscles contract involuntarily, causing the head to twist or turn to one side. Some chronic migraine patients may also have mild torticollis, which can contribute to their migraines. In such cases, the Botox treatment may be adjusted to include additional injections targeting the neck muscles.


Botox has been proven to be an effective treatment for chronic migraines. It can be a complementary treatment for sinus headaches.

By following the PREEMPT Protocol, doctors can administer Botox injections safely and effectively to help patients find relief from their migraines. Although there are potential side effects, the majority of patients tolerate the treatment well and experience significant improvement in their migraine symptoms.

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M.D. Orthopaedic Pain Management - University of São Paulo

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