Botox® is well-known for smoothing wrinkles and rejuvenating aging skin. Increasingly, physicians have been using for Botox® for another purpose: to treat patients with chronic backaches, headaches, muscle spasms and other types of physical pain. Dr. Sonia Pasi offers Botox® injections to her patients at Advanced Pain Consultants. If you suffer from chronic pain that does not always respond well to over-the-counter or even prescription painkillers and analgesics, Botox® might be the solution you’ve been looking for.
In general, good candidates for treatment with Botox® are people in reasonably good health aside from suffering from chronic pain. Botox® has been proven to provide effective pain relief to patients who are experiencing:
While Botox® can be beneficial for people suffering from a variety of conditions, it’s not recommended for everyone. Pregnant or nursing women should not receive Botox® injections, nor should children with muscle spasms, or patients with certain pre-existing medical conditions, like myasthenia gravis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and severe nerve disorders. Prior to treatment, Dr. Pasi conducts a complete evaluate of a patient’s pain symptoms, to help her decide whether Botox® is a good treatment choice.
Many people wonder exactly how Botox® relieves pain. After all, in their minds, it may seem like a “cosmetic treatment” first and foremost. But the fact is, when the FDA first approved Botox® in 1989—years before it became the very-popular anti-aging treatment that it is today—it was to treat muscle contractions caused by cervical dystonia. So what is it about Botox® that makes it such an effective pain treatment?
Botox® is actually a neurotoxin (a toxin that is damaging or destructive to nerve tissue), derived from the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Botox® works by blocking the release of neurotransmitters called acetylcholine by nerve cells, that tell muscles to contract. When a muscle doesn’t receive the signal from the neurotransmitters, it does not contract. As result, there is no tension or muscle spasm — and no pain.
Dr. Pasi normally performs Botox® injections in Advanced Pain Consultants’ office, on an outpatient basis. A treatment session normally lasts no more than 30 minutes, and is only a matter of a few simple steps. First, Dr. Pasi locates and cleans the “trigger point” muscles that are overactive or painful. She then uses a fine needle to inject Botox® directly into these muscles. An electromyographic machine (which monitors electrical activity in a muscle in response to stimulation of a nerve) may be used to ensure Botox® has gone directly into the muscle. Each injection takes just a few moments, and depending on the extent of pain, several injections (up to 10) may be needed to achieve the desired effect.
Following treatment, there might be some minor redness, swelling, numbness or tingling in the injection area(s), but these effects will resolve quickly. No downtime is necessary after the procedure. Patients can resume their normal activities, including work, immediately after the procedure.
Botox® injections can be very successful in relieving pain, particularly with patients who simultaneously undergo physical therapy and stretching exercises to help strengthen the muscles that may be contributing to their pain problems. In general, most patients start experiencing the effects of their Botox® injections within three days after having the injection. Results usually last anywhere from three to six months.
Around three months after injection with Botox®, patients typically start noticing a gradual decrease in pain relief. This is due to the nerves in the muscles becoming overactive again, and resuming the release of acetylcholine. This may be the time to start thinking about another Botox® treatment. Injections can be repeated indefinitely, and long-term treatment with Botox® has been proven to be safe. When Botox® injections are helpful, Dr. Pasi usually recommends they be repeated every 3 or 4 months for continual relief of symptoms.
If you have chronic pain, treatment with Botox® may be an option. To learn more about how Botox® can be used to treat chronic pain or to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Pasi, please call Advanced Pain Consultants at (919) 510-7901 to book your appointment. This is the important first step to managing your pain and regaining control of your life.