Botox is most widely known for its use in plastic surgery and cosmetics as it can reduce signs of aging and alter a person’s physical appearance. However, these injections can carry a variety of medical benefits as well. One of these benefits is the reduction of symptoms for individuals who experience chronic migraines. While Medicare insurance will not cover Botox for cosmetic use, it may provide coverage for injections when they are medically necessary.
What is Botox?
Botox is composed of a bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum. This type of bacteria is most commonly found in soil, water, and forests and is actually poisonous. However, when used correctly, it can have a variety of benefits. Botox can be injected in very small concentrations directly under the skin.
The action of this type of bacteria affects the nervous system and can decrease cell-to-cell communication. The toxin prevents the nerve cells from being able to communicate with the muscle cells by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. When acetylcholine is released and binds to muscle cells, it triggers contraction.
This alters the ability of muscle cells to function and causes them to become paralyzed. This mode of action relaxes muscles and can help prevent wrinkles, reduce sweating, limit migraine headaches, promote a healthier bladder, and much more.
How Botox May Help with Migraine Headaches
Migraines are a type of headache that cause severe pain and is often associated with nausea and light sensitivity. They can also cause a loss of appetite, dizziness, blurred vision, and more. These headaches often start out as a dull ache but can quickly worsen. They can present in the front of the head, all around the head, or just on one side.
These headaches can last for hours or even days in severe cases. Family history most likely plays a role in predisposition, and there are a variety of triggers that can bring on a migraine, such as bright lights, changes in the weather, stress, or general fatigue.
These headaches occur when the nerve cells become overactive and cause the trigeminal nerve in the brain to activate. This nerve innervates the face and head, and its activation results in the release of hormones that cause swelling and pressure in the brain and around the head.
Botox has been shown in studies to reduce both the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. This treatment option can inhibit signaling from nerve cells to muscle cells, and it can also prevent pain signals from being transmitted as well.
Injections for migraine relief are often placed in the head and neck. Multiple treatments may be required, consisting of a total of 30 to 40 injections. These are often split evenly on each side of the head, and extra injections may be placed in a specific location if you are especially prone to migraines in that area.
Does Medicare Coverage Include Botox for Migraines?
Medicare insurance will not provide coverage for Botox injections if they are only being used for cosmetic reasons. However, if they are deemed to be medically necessary by your physician, Medicare coverage will help to pay for the associated costs.
Botox treatments for migraine headaches has been approved by the FDA, which allows them to be covered by many insurance plans, including Medicare. Since these injections are not widely used for migraine prevention, it is likely that you will need to initially pursue other treatment options prior to trying Botox. If these other treatments are not successful at addressing your pain, Botox treatment may be approved.
If you are receiving Botox injections, they will most likely be covered by Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient procedures and treatments. If you have Original Medicare, the associated out-of-pocket costs include 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, your deductible, and any premium payments. Additionally, if you require any prescription medications following your treatment, Medicare Part D may help provide coverage.