Botox May Ease Chronic Neck Pain
Injections, Combined With Physical Therapy, May Offer Pain Relief
WebMD News Archive
March 3, 2004 -- A shot of Botox may do more than erase the
furrow from your brow, it may also get rid of that pain in your neck.
A new study shows that Botox injections may significantly
reduce chronic neck pain when used in combination with physical therapy.
Botox is a purified form of botulinum toxin type A that has
long been used to relax muscles and treat uncontrolled muscle contractions
caused by a number of medical conditions. In recent years, however, it has
become best known as a cosmetic treatment used to lessen the appearance of
Researchers say the results of this small study show that Botox
may also be a useful addition to physical therapy to relieve neck pain caused
by chronically contracted muscles.
Botox for Neck Pain
In the study, published in the January issue of the American
Journal of Pain Management, researchers looked at the effects of combining
a single injection of Botox delivered to the affected neck muscle with standard
physical therapy in 25 people with chronic neck pain.
After three months of follow up, the participants were asked to
rate their neck pain on a scale of one to 10. The study showed that the
combination treatment reduced self-reported pain scores significantly, from
about a six at the start of the study to a four by the end, an average
reduction of nearly 40%.
More than 50% of the patients who participated in the study
said they would undergo future Botox injections for the same problem.
The findings are consistent with previous studies that have
shown Botox injections can relieve pain caused by other muscle-related
conditions, such as cervical dystonia and spasticity (neck muscle stiffness and
spasms). These studies show that the duration of pain relief offered by Botox
varies from about three to- six months, depending on the disorder.
Researchers say that since this study did not compare the
effectiveness of Botox combined with physical therapy versus physical therapy
alone, it offers only indirect evidence that the injections enhanced the
rehabilitation efforts. But they suspect that using Botox to relax the muscle
before therapy maximizes the potential for rehabilitation and repair of damaged
muscle tissue, strengthening of weakened muscles caused by spasms, and
Researchers says treating neck pain with Botox injections may
also have an advantage over oral pain medications because the effects of the
injection are local and does not cause the type of side effects commonly
associated with oral pain medications, such as sedation, fatigue, and