Despite its reputation as a beautifying procedure, Botox – or botulinum toxin – has recently found a second purpose as a tool for chronic pain management. Doctors have found that for a person suffering from chronic back pain, neck pain, facial pain, or even chronic migraines, a visit to Botox specialists in Texas and Florida can yield surprisingly fast and effective relief from pain that just doesn’t respond well to other treatments.
How Does Botox Treat Chronic Pain?
Botox, or botulinum toxin, is one of modern medicine’s most fascinating treatments. A protein produced by certain types of bacteria, botulinum toxin, in its natural form, is one of the most toxic substances known to man. Decades of research and careful refinement of the toxin has allowed scientists to start using this substance for good, and today Botox is used safely in millions of procedures, both medical and cosmetic. The toxin itself works by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which forces muscles to relax; in large doses Botox causes parts of the body to shut down completely, but when administered in small doses by a trained professional, it relaxes muscles safely and locally to smooth out wrinkles and to target muscular sources of chronic pain.
What Conditions Can Botox Treat?
Because it relaxes muscles, the pain management doctors at our clinics in Texas and Florida find that Botox is particularly effective at treating chronic pain that is muscular in origin. Whiplash, TMJ, and lower back pain, for example, respond well to treatment with Botox because the pain often results from stress and tension in the muscle fibers, which in turn put stress on nearby tendons and joints. In these cases, Botox forces the muscles to relax, allowing joints to return to their natural position without pain. The same muscle relaxation makes Botox an effective treatment for post-mastectomy pain: when temporary fillers are implanted under the skin in preparation for post-mastectomy reconstruction, the muscle often contracts painfully, making maintaining the implants long enough to expand the skin sufficiently for a natural-looking breast too painful for some. Botox injections target the muscle contraction, allowing patients to recover quickly and with much less pain.
Botox is also FDA approved as a treatment for chronic migraines. Regular injections at specific sites around the head and neck can create long-term relief for patients who suffer migraines more than 14 days out of the year. Injections to treat chronic migraines are usually administered once every 12 weeks by our pain management doctors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and, as with other Botox-treated pain, patients usually start to feel positive effects within a few days.
Who is a Good Candidate for Botox?
Whether a person is a good candidate for Botox to treat chronic pain is a decision that has to be made by an experienced pain management doctor, like those at Physician Partners of America in Texas and Florida. Someone who is in generally good health aside from their chronic pain can usually be treated with Botox, but certain pre-existing conditions, like myasthenia gravis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and severe nerve disorders increase the risks of dangerous side effects when being treated with Botox. For a healthy individual, however, side effects are rare and usually mild, and Botox can be a quick, effective, and minimally invasive source of chronic pain management.