Alongside its more common use of reducing fine lines and wrinkles, Botox can also help treat chronic pain.
What is Botox?
Botulinum Toxin (Botox) was originally approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat muscle contractions caused by cervical dystonia. This was well before its rise to fame as a cosmetic procedure. Botox works by blocking neurotransmitter signals that tell muscles to contract. No muscle contractions means no pain.
The pain conditions that are most suitable for botox include those where muscle spasm and tenderness are clearly definable in the head, neck, and back. Botox has been used for the past 40 years to treat excessive muscle stiffness, spasticity, and dystonia. More recently, specialists have begun using it to treat various types of neuropathic pain.
How does Botox work?
Botox works by blocking the release of acetylcholine from the junction between a nerve and muscle. Normally acetylcholine binds to its receptor at this junction and causes a muscle contraction. When Botox is injected to an area of chronic muscle spasm, acetylcholine is blocked, allowing the muscle to relax.
Botox is administered by an injection directly into the desired site. The onset of relief occurs in about a week and typically lasts 3 months. The intent of Botox in this case is to serve as a temporary relief from pain, not as a fix or cure. After three months, the muscles may become overactive again, so four injections per year may be needed.
Botox injections are effective at treating:
- Muscle pain arising from chronic muscle spasm
- Neck pain in cervical dystonia
- Migraine headaches
- Nerve disorders resulting in blepharospasm
- Myofascial pain
If you experience any of the symptoms above and are curious if Botox can help you, get in touch with us.