Botox is a purified protein derived from bacteria that relaxes muscles. Botox has been approved by the FDA for treatment of spasm around the eye, muscle imbalances of the neck, eye wandering, and recently, wrinkles in the forehead. Botox has been safely used for treating various other medical conditions since 1989, including spasticity, myofascial pain, headache, back pain and neck pain.
Commonly used now as an anti-aging treatment, Botox works by blocking the neurotransmitter signals that make the muscles contract. When contractions stop, so does the tension and, therefore, the pain. While Botox injections are not yet approved by the FDA to treat back and neck muscle pain, many doctors are administering them so their patients can benefit from the effects. This therapy of injecting medicine or treatment directly into the affected muscle is known as trigger point therapy, or trigger point injections.
Trigger point injections are used by doctors to treat and relieve muscle pain with a direct injection to the muscles. Trigger points are the muscle areas which cause either local or referred pain, and trigger point injections can be used instead of surgery to help with the discomfort. Before the injections, your doctor will need to locate what is causing the pain; this can include muscle spasms from damaged discs or spinal column inflammation. One of the more common chemicals used with these injections is Botox.
As this is a non-surgical treatment for chronic neck and back pain, the treatment is relatively quick and simple. Your doctor will inject the Botox directly into whichever muscles are causing you pain or discomfort. This will block the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, which keeps you from feeling the painful muscle contractions and tension. Since a very fine needle is used, there is very little pain; however, you can request a mild anesthetic.
You will start to feel the benefits from this treatment in as little as two weeks, and results can last for at least four months. The treatment can typically be repeated up to four times a year, allowing you to live a life without chronic pain. Between injections, your doctor may recommend physical therapy in order to strengthen and stretch the muscles that are causing the pain.
There have been very few side effects reported with using Botox injections to relieve chronic back pain; among the most common are tenderness at injection site and some swelling. These symptoms usually last a few days, at most.
Botox isn’t just for celebrities anymore. If you’re burdened by chronic back and neck pain, ask a doctor at The Florida Spine Institute about this treatment. The same injection that works to smooth out wrinkles just may work to relieve persistent, life-inhibiting pain caused by muscle tension.