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Botulinum (Botox) Injection for Low Back Pain - Topic Overview

Botulinum toxin A is a protein produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, the same bacteria that causes botulism food poisoning. When injected into muscle in tiny amounts, botulinum A (Botox) can stop or reduce muscle spasm by blocking nerve signals to the muscle. This treatment has been used since the early 1990s to relieve severe muscle spasms around the eyes and in the neck, arms, legs, hands, and feet. Some people with cerebral palsy have gained significant relief from severe muscle contraction with botulinum toxin injections.

Botulinum toxin A has been tried as a treatment for chronic low back pain. Although this practice is experimental and not well tested, it has shown promise. For example, in one small study of 31 people with chronic low back pain, botulinum A injection was compared to saline injection into painful back muscles. Pain relief was reported by most people as lasting 3 to 4 months.1

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Understanding Back Pain -- Prevention

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to helping prevent back pain. Excess weight puts a strain on the back, so maintaining a healthy weight is important. Regular exercise, especially core work, keeps the abdominal and back muscles firm. Smoking ages the spine, so avoid smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke. Practicing good posture is another way to help prevent back pain. First, analyze your posture by standing with your heels against a wall. Your calves, buttocks, shoulders, and the back of your...

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The small size of the study makes it impossible to guarantee that botulinum toxin injection is an effective and safe treatment for you.

Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this medicine and its unlabeled use. Severe side effects have been reported.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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