Famous for its ability to smooth deep facial wrinkles, Botox is also showing promise at relieving pain according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.
A study found that patients with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)—a debilitating and painful nerve compression disorder—who received a single, low-dose injection of Botox in a neck muscle reported a significant reduction in short-term pain.
This suggests, the researchers say, that Botox could be an alternative to the invasive rib-removal surgery that is used to treat the syndrome as a last resort.
“There haven’t been many alternatives to the use of surgery to treat this syndrome,” says the study’s lead author Paul J. Christo, M.D., M.B.A., an assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Botox seems to be an effective treatment that avoids surgery’s obvious drawbacks, such as its invasive nature and long recovery time.”
As with treating wrinkles, the effect from Botox on TOS patients lasts only a few months, so repeated injections would be necessary to maintain the results. Dr. Christo says some patients could develop antibodies to the compound with excessive use, which would mean the toxin would no longer block pain.
Botox’s use as a cosmetic procedure shows no signs of slowing. In the latest statistics from the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery it was the number one less-invasive cosmetic procedure performed in the United States in 2009. Dr. Frenzel performs Botox in his Arlington, Texas office.
For the full release on how Botox eases nerve pain in TOS patients, visit the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.