I can still remember my fear when my doctor suggested that I try Botox for chronic migraine. In fact, I chickened out and had to go back a few weeks later when I had plucked up the courage. Well, my fears were ill-founded. Botox has been an amazing treatment for me, and did what the many preventative drugs I had 'failed' prior to it didn't do - decrease my migraine attacks both in terms of pain and vertigo attacks from vestibular migraine.
It's been many years since I started having Botox for chronic migraine and I am pretty blasé about it now. I don't get nervous and sometimes go for a walk and treat afterwards (read: decaf coffee and cake 😉). One thing I did used to get nervous about though was the increased head pain for a week or so after the treatment, which can happen for some people. Then I changed up some habits and thankfully, have significantly reduced my post-treatment pain. It's not to say that I am pain-free, but these 5 changes have made it far more manageable.
These are simply lifestyle changes that work for me as an individual and should not be considered to constitute medical advice in any way. Please consult a doctor about your medical treatments and any potential side-effects.
1. Stock up on pain relief and migraine treatments
While the Botox injections themselves just cause a bit of a sting, and some I barely feel at all, my head can feel a little angry in the few days post-treatment. Not surprisingly really, given those 30-odd injections! Previously I would have full-blown migraine attacks, and occasionally still have one, but usually it is now a dull headache. Much more manageable!
To help ease this head pain I make sure that I am stocked up on pain relief - Tylenol / paracetamol. Many times I only have to take a couple that evening, but it's always good to know they are in my bathroom cabinet and I don't have to make a trip to the pharmacy.
For help with pain relief beyond traditional drug therapies, I'm a fan of the 4 head stick. A simple menthol stick you swipe across the forehead that helps block pain signals and relaxes the muscles. My mum bought me my first one when I started to get migraine attacks and I've been loyal to it ever since!
If my eyes are more sensitive to light, then I use my Avulux migraine glasses when on the computer or watching TV. They really help to calm my eyes by blocking harmful light spectrums such as blue light, while letting soothing green light in.
2. Plan a few 'quiet' days after treatment
Resting isn't something I am great at, I'll be honest. I used to carry on as usual after Botox treatments but have learnt the hard way that it doesn't work for me. It may be fine for you, but with a number of chronic illness conditions including fibromyalgia and MCAS, my body needs some quiet time for a day or two. I have noticed a real decrease in the head pain since doing this.
Some ideas for your quiet days:
- Some bad (but good!) TV if you are OK with screens
- Podcasts or audiobooks
- Cooking some tasty meals if you feel up to it
- Meditation - Calm is a good one
- Reading - something light and fun!
3. Refrain from strenuous exercise
One time I went for a run after having had Botox the day before. I don't know why I thought that would be a good idea and learnt from my mistake fast with that one! I had a migraine attack a few hours later and felt awful for a good week. Never again . . .
So strenuous exercise is out for me, but I do like to go for a short walk or do some gentle yoga or stretching if I feel up to it. When I say yoga though, I definitely mean the gentle kind - nothing that involves turning my head a lot or being upside down! The slower yoga sessions from Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube are always good options.
4. No hair washing for 24 hours
Any kind of pressure on my head is a no-go for me in the days after Botox, and that definitely includes hair washing. I usually try not to wash my hair for at least 24 hours after, or longer if it looks OK! Plus I would never book a hair appointment in the week after - that would be instant migraine attack for sure.
5. Avoid known triggers
With migraine being so individual in terms of triggers, we each have things that can aggravate our sensitive heads that would best be avoided if possible after Botox.
My main trigger is lack of sleep, which is definitely hard to deal with. As I also have fibromyalgia and sleep disorders, getting a good night's sleep isn't easy for me. Add in increased head pain, and a full eight hours is unlikely to happen. I do try to be very good with my sleep hygiene after Botox though, making sure I stay off screens later in the evening and not napping in the day.
My other triggers include weather changes, which of course are impossible to control, and too much screen time. Now that one is in my control, although I perhaps push it a little too far
sometimes many times(!) After Botox though I just try to be more aware of what my body (or head!) is telling me. Ease off of things that may aggravate it, and instead enjoy calmer activities that are less triggering and kinder to my body.
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Please follow the advice of your doctor as to all medical treatments, supplements, and dietary choices, as set out in my disclaimer. I am not a medical professional, and this post, as well as all other posts on this blog, are for informational purposes only.