Although the botulinum toxin, better known as BOTOX® (onabotulinumtoxinA), is widely popular as an anti-aging treatment, it was originally approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat severe muscle contractions caused by cervical dystonia. Those with cervical dystonia and other conditions characterized by severe pain caused by muscle spasms, find significant relief with Botox injections. The same substance that works to smooth out wrinkles on the face also relieves persistent, debilitating pain in the back and neck caused by muscle tension.
The botulinum toxin is produced by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. Just a small amount of of the toxin, when injected into a muscle, blocks nerve signals that tell that muscles to contract. Pain specialists all over the world, including Dr. Morchower, use Botox to treat various painful conditions that arise from severely contracted muscles. Common condition that use botulinum toxin for treatment include migraine and tension headaches, facial pain, back and neck pain. Botox is injected directly into the offending muscle, therefore, there are no systemic side effects such as fatigue and sedation commonly experienced with oral muscle relaxants or narcotic drugs. The effect of Botox injections last for 3-6 months and may need be repeated to maintain a therapeutic effect.
A study, published in the American Journal of Pain Management, looked at the effects of combining a single injection of botulinum toxin in an offending neck muscle with standard physical therapy in 25 people with chronic neck pain. At a three month follow up visit, the participants were asked to rate their neck pain on a scale of one to 10. The study showed that combining physical therapy with botulinum toxin treatment reduced self-reported pain scores by nearly 40%. Also, more than 50% of the participants in the study said they would undergo future Botox injections for the same problem.
However, researchers in the study did not compare the effectiveness of Botox combined with physical therapy versus physical therapy alone, therefore, it offers only indirect evidence that the injections enhanced the rehabilitation efforts. It can also be assumed that using Botox to relax the muscle before therapy optimizes the effects of physical therapy. It also appears that researchers believe treating neck pain with Botox injections may have an advantage over oral pain medications because the effects of the injection are localized and the systemic side effects such as somnolence, dizziness and fatigue are not experienced as they so frequently are with oral pain medications.
*Individual Result May Vary*