Most everyone has heard about Botox and the way it can help a person achieve and maintain a more youthful look for longer. Did you know that it can be used for more, though? Many people don’t realize that Botox injections can be used to help correct crossed eyes, reduce spasms and even manage chronic pain conditions.
What makes Botox great for these applications is the same thing that makes it great for reducing wrinkles. Botox works by relaxing the muscles that it is injected into. In the face, this relaxation means that new wrinkles cannot be formed and existing wrinkles cannot be deepened. When used in another context, such as pain management, this relaxation helps to release built up and excessive tensions which contribute to ongoing pain.
By using a number of diagnostic tests, we can determine the muscle or muscle groups that are the source of your pain. From there, the treatment is fairly straightforward and very similar to Botox treatments for wrinkling. A series of injections is placed into the muscle or series of muscles associated with the pain. Botox wears off by itself and so repeated injections may be needed, but it typically lasts several weeks to months as compared to pain pills which only last a few hours.
Some pain conditions that can be successfully treated with Botox are:
- Arthritis: Early on in the testing phase of Botox, studies showed that it was effective for some patients in reducing pain associated with arthritis in the shoulder, knee and hip as well as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis.
- Back pain: In 2001, a study found that about 60% of patients who suffer from chronic back pain found that Botox injections helped to relieve their pain for three to four months.
- Headache: Botox has been FDA approved to treat chronic migraine headaches since 2010. In most patients, a series of injections into the head and neck once every 2-3 months is enough to seriously reduce the incidence of headache. More recently, the American Academy of Neurology has been looking into the success of Botox as a method of treatment for cerebrospinal fluid headaches, which are caused by a leak in the fluid of the spine. This leak is sometimes the result of spinal block or epidural methods of anesthesia.
- Neuropathy: As previously discussed in my blogs, neuropathy is nerve pain or numbness that is fairly common among diabetics. This pain most commonly affects the hands, feet and legs. Botox injections can help to reduce the frequency and severity of this pain.