-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Botox injections, long
used to smooth away wrinkles, might also soothe chronic neck and
shoulder muscle pain, new research suggests.
This type of persistent pain "is a common disorder that
potentially may cause functional impairment in our patients,"
explained one expert not connected to the study, Dr. Robert Duarte.
"In addition, neck pain may provoke headaches," said Duarte, who
directs the Pain Center at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute, part
of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, NY.
In the study, 118 patients with pain lasting more than two
months who had already tried other pain medications were given
injections of either botox (botulinum toxin type A) or a
Those who received botox had a much greater reduction in pain
scores than those who received the placebo, according to a team
from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The patients who received the botox injections also had a
significant reduction in the number of headaches per week, and
their headaches were less severe. They also had an overall improved
quality of life because pain was less likely to interfere with
general activity, sleep and enjoyment.
The study was scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual
meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
The researchers said their findings suggest that botox may be an
option for people with chronic neck and shoulder pain (myofascial
pain syndrome) that hasn't been relieved with traditional
therapies, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and muscle
relaxants, physical therapy and behavioral modification.
"At best, long-term benefit with traditional therapies is transient and unpredictable. Even with these treatments, some people with myofascial pain syndrome get incomplete benefit or no benefit at all," study author Dr. Andrea Nicol, director of research at the UCLA Pain Management Center, said in an ASA news release.
Along with its use to smooth out frown lines and wrinkles, botox
is being tested as a treatment for other conditions, including
bladder leakage, or urinary incontinence. Researchers are also
using botox to treat a number of painful conditions, including
"Botox is in a class of medications called neurotoxins and when injected into muscles, blocks the nerve signals that cause the tightening of muscle, leading to muscle relaxation. Thus, botox may offer advantages over traditional therapies for myofascial pain syndrome due to its prolonged and sustained effects," Nicol said.
Duarte said that "in patients complaining of persistent neck
pain who have failed these therapies, botox may prove to be
helpful. In my own practice, I have seen patients respond to such a
treatment. More studies, however, are needed."
Another expert agreed. "Botox injections may play a role for
those patients who have failed more traditional treatment
protocols," said Dr. Victor Khabie, chief of the department of
surgery and co-director of the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at
Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "Although the
preliminary data looks promising, more studies are needed to
investigate the efficacy and safety of botox injections in patients
with chronic cervical conditions," he added.
Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Academy of Physical Rehabilitation and Medicine has
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