The Growing Influence of Botox in Managing Chronic Pain

2011-01-20 | |
Last updated: 2015-01-09

As coveted as it is for its ability to slow the advance of those wrinkles that start appearing in middle age, Botox was not always used in fulfilling our superficial desires. First approved for use in the US in 1989, the product was originally intended to treat muscle spasms of the eye and face. Since its introduction, its popularity for cosmetic treatment has swelled to the levels we now know, overshadowing its standard medical uses. However as a powerful nerve toxin, the medication still serves numerous “real” medical purposes. One such very important use for Botox or Botulinum toxin is in the treatment of pain.

What Is Botox Or Botulinum Toxin?

Botulinum toxin, the scientific name for Botox, is a by-product of a type of bacteria found on spoiled meat. The toxin is one of the most potent nerve toxins that exist making it deadly in all but the smallest of doses. However, in such extremely low doses, the effect of the toxin in the body is to temporarily inhibit the transmission of nerve pulses. This effect is what allows the toxin to stop wrinkles because it limits the ability of the nerves to tell our muscles to contract, which would normally cause wrinkles.

How Can Botox Treat Chronic Pain?

The effect of botulinum toxin in reducing or inhibiting nerve pulses is very important in the field of pain management for several significant reasons. One reason is that not all forms of pain are equivalent and some types of pain do not respond well to standard analgesics or painkillers. Thus, for some of these types of pain, the toxin offers relief where other forms of medication cannot.

A second reason for the importance of the toxin in managing pain is because the toxin has relatively long duration effects on the nerves that are exposed to it. Those who use Botox for cosmetic purposes will know that the effects of an injection last for several months. For the control of pain, this means that injections of the botulinum toxin can be used to prevent pain in certain conditions where pain is chronic or sporadic in nature. At the same time, the long duration effects in limiting nerve function also avoid the risks of addiction that can come with use of many other forms of painkiller.

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Category: General Health, Medical Research, Medical Treatment

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