Botulinum Toxin in the Treatment of Headache

Toxins (Basel). 2020 Dec 17;12(12):803. doi: 10.3390/toxins12120803.


Botulinum toxin type A has been used in the treatment of chronic migraine for over a decade and has become established as a well-tolerated option for the preventive therapy of chronic migraine. Ongoing research is gradually shedding light on its mechanism of action in migraine prevention. Given that its mechanism of action is quite different from that of the new monoclonal antibodies directed against calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or its receptor, it is unlikely to be displaced to any major extent by them. Both will likely remain as important tools for patients with chronic migraine and the clinicians assisting them. New types of botulinum toxin selective for sensory pain neurons may well be discovered or produced by recombinant DNA techniques in the coming decade, and this may greatly enhance its therapeutic usefulness. This review summarizes the evolution of botulinum toxin use in headache management over the past several decades and its role in the preventive treatment of chronic migraine and other headache disorders.

Keywords: CGRP; botulinum toxin; chronic migraine; erenumab; migraine; onabotulinumtoxinA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / administration & dosage*
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / metabolism*
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / metabolism
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / drug therapy*
  • Headache / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / metabolism
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide