Chili Pepper, Botox Injections Help Ease Pain
Capsaicin Injections Soothe Osteoarthritis; Botox Helps Many Types of Pain
April 5, 2005 (Boston) -- Injections of the active ingredient found in
red-hot chili peppers may produce lasting pain relief in people with
And injections of Botox, the popular wrinkle-smoothing drug, may treat many
painful ailments, say experts who presented evidence at the annual meeting of
the American Pain Society in Boston.
Capsaicin Is Hot
When injected into knees of six people with severe osteoarthritis, 1,000
micrograms of capsaicin, the substance that gives chili peppers its heat and
kick, reduced pain significantly more than placebo, the researchers showed.
Relief lasted up to five weeks. It's unclear if pain relief would have
lasted longer because the patients were only followed for up to six weeks.
and rubs to treat pain, these agents are only mildly
effective. Researchers hope that by injecting capsaicin directly into the
arthritic joint, it may better numb the pain.
Approval a Few Years Away
The new capsaicin drug, called ALGRX 4975, is under development by AlgoRx
Pharmaceuticals Inc. It would be several years before such a product would be
available on the market if approved by the FDA.
"We anticipate that the effects will last for three months, but until
the studies are done we will not know for sure," says researcher Beth
Vause, executive director of clinical and regulatory operations at AlgoRx. She
says the compound is also being tested in other types of pain such as nerve
pain and postoperative pain.
In the study, the only side effect was brief, burning pain at the site of
Botox Not Just for Wrinkles
Botox is known to be great for wrinkles, but it also works against various
conditions that cause pain. In one study of 37 people with a variety of painful
temporomandibular joint disease, the wrist pain of neck spasms, and one injection of
Botox produced an average 68% decrease in pain lasting 8.5 weeks.
In this study, the
was injected under
the skin, not in the muscle or joint as it has been in studies of back pain.
More studies are now under way, according to researchers from Anodyne Pain Care
In another study of 25 people whose
did not respond to
surgery, one injection of Botox into the muscle produced pain relief spanning
about three months.
Botox injections can cause muscle weakness. But in this study no weakness or
other side effects were seen.
Botox may reduce the severity of muscle spasms when injected into a muscle.
However, it's possible that Botox may have an unknown effect on pain when given
as a skin injection.
"If it works, it's really pretty nifty because it has no systemic
toxicity and the results can last for four to five months," says Eric M.
Chevlen, MD, a pain medicine specialist at St. Elizabeth Health center in
Long-Term Outlook Uncertain
"You have to look for long-term effects, and it's not clear that [these
injectables] provide long-term effects," says Gregory Terman, MD, an
anesthesiologist at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.