One way to get closer to a migraine-free life is through a nerve block or Botox procedure. These options can not only provide better pain relief for prolonged periods of time, but they can be cheaper, more tolerable, and more accessible for some than taking medicine every day or undergoing surgery. When pursuing treatment for chronic headache pain, how does nerve block vs. Botox for migraine headaches compare?
Nerve block injections work by numbing the occipital nerves at the back of the head and neck. On the other hand, Botox works by blocking nerve endings from sending pain signals to the brain. Depending on your migraine symptoms, your doctor may choose one or the other.
Nerve Block vs. Botox for Migraines
They Treat Different Types of Migraines
Not all headaches can be treated in the same way. Chronic migraines, for one, are characterized as occurring on over 15 days in a month. Episodic migraines, however, occur for no more than 15 days in a month. These headaches can be caused by high levels of stress and exhaustion.
Botox is only FDA-approved for chronic migraines, though research about its effectiveness for other kinds of headaches is in progress.
On the other hand, doctors tend to use nerve blocks for conditions like occipital neuralgia and cervicogenic headaches. Occipital neuralgia is a condition where your occipital nerves are damaged, causing brief but intense headaches that you feel from the neck to the top of the skull. Cervicogenic headaches occur with sudden movements of the neck.
Each Treatment Provides a Different Timeline for Pain Relief
In most cases, nerve blocks take effect within a few minutes of the injections. However, Botox takes longer to provide relief — about two to four weeks. This difference in relief time can be attributed to how each method works.
Botox doesn’t numb the area in the same way that nerve blocks do. They instead work by relaxing the muscles around the nerves causing your headache pain.
Recommended Reading: Botox for Migraines: What to Expect the Day of Your Treatment
Nerve blocks work through injections of local anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroids into the occipital nerves.
They are Both Nonsurgical Procedures
Many doctors and patients alike tend to choose nerve blocks or Botox for migraines because they are both nonsurgical. While migraine surgery is sometimes necessary, the natural inclination is to go with less invasive options.
Both treatments require injections to specific areas for pain relief that lasts several months. They also require treatment plans since the injections must be ongoing for you to keep feeling the benefits. The aftercare tends to be similar as well — each treatment can cause minor soreness and swelling at the injection site.
Let a Headache Specialist Guide Your Treatment
When your doctor is considering nerve block vs. Botox for migraine headaches, they will consider the severity, frequency, and characteristics of your pain. If you need more guidance about what to do about your debilitating headache symptoms, you’ve come to the right place. Reach out to Dr. Escasena for questions at 305-558-7170.