Botox for back pain treatments are injections that are most commonly used by doctors to treat wrinkles. However, as time passes researchers are finding more and more uses for this toxin of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
"currently approved by the FDA"
Botox is currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of:
Off label uses of the toxin that have not been approved by the FDA include:
Latest developments in the use of this very versatile treatment using Clostridium botulinum toxin include injections to treat chronic headaches, chronic musculoskeletal pain, and as an aid to weight loss by prolonging gastric emptying time.
"50% reduction in pain in the majority of people"
Botox for back pain is a relatively new development, and some of its proponents are claiming success with a 50% reduction in pain in the majority of people.
Other authorities are more skeptical, because there have been only limited studies without consistent results, and most of the evidence is anecdotal. At this point botox injections are not a common treatment for back pain.
However, botox injections may still be useful in certain situations. Let's review the facts.
"This toxin causes a temporary paralysis..."
Botox is a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is the cause of botulism and is the same poison that you get when foods are not canned properly. This toxin causes a temporary paralysis of the muscles by blocking the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
First used medicinally in the 1950's for the treatment of strabismus, it has found great popularity as a treatment for crow's feet and other facial wrinkles. As mentioned above it is also used to treat excessive sweating, headaches, and the muscle spasticity associated with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.
Doctors inject minute quantities of the toxin into specific muscles and cause a temporary paralysis. The effects gradually wear off and the injections usually need to be repeated in 4-6 months.
"The risk of side effects..."
The Cochrane Collaboration is an international group that reviews medical treatments and reports on their effectiveness. Although they have not reviewed botox as a treatment for back pain, they have determined that botox injections were effective and safe for the treatment of cervical dystonia, which is caused by muscle spasms in the neck.
The risk of side effects from botox injections is limited. There may be bruising and there is a small chance of infection or allergic reaction. When used for cosmetic reasons there is a risk of injecting the wrong muscle and causing unwanted facial changes such as an uneven smile or a drooping eyelid.
"Should I get botox injections for my back pain?"
First you should discuss this with your primary healthcare provider, who knows your health history, to insure that you would be a candidate for this medication.
He may also be able to recommend a pain management specialist that you can contact. The American Academy of Pain Medicine can also refer you to specialists in your area. Try to find a pain management specialist with experience using botox for back pain or pain in other areas.
"consider the cost"
Second, you must consider the cost. Botox injections are expensive, exactly how expensive is difficult to estimate because the number of injections and the amount injected will vary from case to case. Insurance companies will generally not cover the cost of these botox for back pain.
Also, in most cases the results are temporary, and injections need to be repeated every four to six months. But, when using botox for back pain there is some evidence that breaking the cycle of pain will sometimes make the relief more long lasting.
"botox injections may be worth exploring"
When considering botox for back pain it seems reasonable to conclude that if your back pain is caused by muscle spasm or muscle tightness, and it has been unrelieved by more conventional treatments, botox injections may be worth exploring.