Botox therapy for pain management – What is it?

Botox, or onabotulinumtoxinA, is a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium dificile that has long been used cosmetically to vanish facial wrinkles. More recently, research has shown positive outcomes in using Botox for pain management. It is used for chronic migraines, spastic contractions of arm and leg muscles, myofascial syndrome, and neuropathic pain. Injected into the muscle, Botox blocks nerve impulses that cause the muscle to be overly tense, which relaxes the muscles. Research has also suggested it works directly on the nerves to alleviate pain. The procedure generally consists of several injections in various parts of the affected muscle(s).

 

Am I a candidate for Botox therapy for pain management?

You are a candidate for Botox therapy if you are suffering from chronic migraines, arm or leg spasms, myofascial syndrome, and/or neuropathic pain. You are not a candidate for Botox therapy if you have myasthenia gravis, an infection where the medication would be injected, or Eaton Lambert syndrome. Additionally, Botox should not be administered to children under 12 years old or women who are pregnant or nursing. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for Botox injections to alleviate pain.

 

How long will Botox for pain management take?

The length of the procedure depends on the number of injections you will be receiving. You will need to spend a short time in the office to ensure you don’t have a reaction to the medication. It can take between 2 and 5 days to experience muscle relaxation and relief. On average, Botox injections will provide pain relief for 3-4 months, although it may be as little as 2 months or as many as 6 months. You can receive Botox injections more than once.

 

How long will it take to recover from Botox injections for pain management?

You will not be under anesthesia or have a surgical incision, so recovery is minimal. Pain at the injection site and bruising are common but resolve quickly. Fatigue, dry mouth, and fever might present up to two weeks after the injections, but will go away quickly. It is important to keep the injection site clean and monitor for signs of infection including warmth, redness, swelling, pain, or fever. Rarely, difficulty speaking may occur briefly following an injection near the face or neck; this is only temporary. Talk with your doctor to determine if the benefits you stand to gain from the Botox injections outweigh the risks associated with the procedure.

 

Reference

Sim, W. S. (2011). Application of Botulinum Toxin in Pain Management. The Korean Journal of Pain24(1), 1–6. http://doi.org/10.3344/kjp.2011.24.1.1