Pain Treatment Botox

While many people think of cosmetic uses when thinking of BOTOX® injections, BOTOX® can also be used to treat pain. In fact, some medical experts believe that BOTOX® is a better pain reliever than other traditional oral medicines (such as aspirin) because it has fewer associated side effects.

The Making of BOTOX®

BOTOX® is the brand name for botulinum toxin type A, a purified protein produced from a toxin that causes food poisoning. Although BOTOX® is derived from a toxin, the injectable medication is safe when properly administered by a doctor.

FDA Approval for BOTOX®

Although the medical community has found numerous uses for BOTOX®, ranging from treatments for wrinkles to pain relief, BOTOX® injections have only received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of:

  • brow and forehead wrinkles
  • crossed eyes (strabismus)
  • eyelid spasms (blepharospasm)
  • neck spasms (cervical dystonia).

BOTOX® Injections for Migraines

One use that BOTOX® has not yet received FDA approval for is the treatment of migraines. However, various studies have found BOTOX® injections effective for the treatment of migraines and other headaches.

For the treatment of migraines, BOTOX®:

  • can be prescribed legally off-label to treat head pain
  • causes less side effects than other oral migraine medications
  • has been found to be over 80 percent effective in the treatment of headaches.

Keep in mind that many private insurers don’t cover BOTOX® injections.

Head and Neck Pain Treatment with BOTOX® Injections

BOTOX® injections can also be used to treat soft tissue pain in the head and neck. Doctors state that BOTOX® injections are most effective in the treatment of pain when used in conjunction with physical therapy.

BOTOX® works by reducing the amount of neurotransmitters in your body to relax your muscles. Similarly, these injections dull the nervous system, producing a pain-killing effect.

BOTOX® Side Effects and Complications

Studies and clinical trials have found that BOTOX® side effects are rare and tend to occur less frequently than side effects from oral medications. When used for pain relief, BOTOX® side effects include:

  • eyebrow drooping
  • eyelid drooping
  • flu-like symptoms
  • head pain
  • nausea
  • neck muscle weakness
  • respiratory infections.

Like many treatments, BOTOX® isn’t appropriate for everyone. BOTOX® is not recommended for patients who:

  • are allergic to any of the ingredients in BOTOX®
  • are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant or are breastfeeding
  • are taking specific medications (Patients should alert their doctors of all medications they are taking during their consultations.)
  • have an infection at the needed site of the BOTOX® injections
  • have diseases affecting the nerves and muscles
  • have neurological disorders.

The Effectiveness of BOTOX® Injections

Along with having fewer associated side effects, BOTOX® injections are also less expensive than traditional therapies used to treat chronic headaches. Overall, BOTOX® injections are an effective method of pain relief.

In one study, patients received two to five BOTOX® injections every three months. Many of these patients had tried and been failed by standard headache and migraine therapies.

During this study:

  • About 80 percent of patients had a reduction in the frequency and/or the intensity of their headaches.
  • Over 60 percent reported above average to excellent relief.
  • Less than 20 percent experienced only minimal pain relief.
  • Roughly 20 percent of the patients did not find relief from the BOTOX® injections.

Although BOTOX® injections do not help all patients treated, the use of BOTOX® for pain relief is a viable solution for many.

Resources

About.com Medical Review Board (n.d.). Report: Botox for Head Pain, Largest Study Yet. Retrieved August 25, 2007, from the About.com Web site: http://headaches.about.com/cs/prevention/a/ahs03_botox.htm.

Botox Cosmetic (n.d.). Side Effects of Botox® Cosmetic. Retrieved August 25, 2007 from the Botox® Cosmetic Web site: http://botoxcosmetic.com/botox_safety/side_effects.aspx.

Lewis, Carol (2002, July-August). Botox Cosmetic: A Look at Looking Good. Retrieved August 26, 2007 from the FDA Web site: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2002/402_botox.html.

Mayo Clinic (2007). Botulinum Toxin Type A (Intramuscular Route). Retrieved August 26, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR601801.

Mayo Clinic (2005). Chronic Migraine Patients May Find Relief in Botox Therapy. Retrieved August 25, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2005-sct/2760.html.

UCLA Health (2005). Botox Eases Pain in Head and Neck. Retrieved August 25, 2007, from the UCLA Health System Web site:
http://www.uclahealth.org/body.cfm?xyzpdqabc=0