Emerging Uses of Botox
Expanding Cosmetic Applications
Officially, Botox is only approved for use when treating frown lines. However, this is not the only way doctors use this revolutionary drug. Today, many doctors are using Botox for a range of other cosmetic treatments. They have been doing so for years, and the results have always been safe and effective. In addition to treating frown lines, doctors have found that Botox is quite effective in smoothing the horizontal lines that form on the forehead. It is also used to treat mouth frowns, dimpled chins, crow's feet, and lines on the neck (Carruthers A 2001).
The use of Botox has even gone further. It is today being used in artistic manners. Doctors use it to form the shape of the eyebrows as well as to lift the brow (Huang 2000; Carruthers A 20001; Fagien 2001). The drug is also used to widen the eyes so as to give a patient a more rounded look (Carruthers J 2001; Flynn 20001). It is further used to shape the sides of the face and jaw (Park 2003) as well as to balance the asymmetrical features (due to surgery or injury).
It is also good to note that Botox is now being used with other cosmetic treatments. For example, studies have found that combining Botox with traditional cosmetic procedures or surgery enhances the results (Fagien 2001). This is especially so when it comes to laser resurfacing. As technology continues to advance and more research is done, Botox is expected to have even more use in cosmetic applications.
According to preliminary studies, it is suggested that Botox can offer relief to patients that are not getting relief from using traditional medications for pain. Botox is recommended mainly because it offers local relief of low back pain and is completely safe. The drug has no systemic side effects. This is unlike most other traditional pain treatments that have a negative effect on the central nervous system.
Back pain is usually caused by injury to ligaments or muscles. The sprains and strains can be caused by a wide range of reasons, including poor posture, lack of regular exercise and improper lifting. To treat back pains, an injection is made into a target muscle with a thin needle. The number of injections and the amount of dosage will depend on various factors, such as the location and type of pain being experienced. The patient may still experience pain three days after the injection. The effectiveness of the treatment peaks after a couple of weeks and maintains the level of comfort for three to four months. After that, you will need a repeat injection.
The efficacy of Botox in back pain relief has been the subject of many studies. There was a small randomized trial involving 31 adults who suffered from low back pain. The participants had back pain that lasted longer than 6 months. 73% of the participants who got Botox injections reported a substantial reduction in back pain within a span of three weeks after the injections (Foster 2001). While more studies are still needed, particularly larger and randomized trials, it is clear that Botox injections can actually offer relief from back pain. The prevailing fear, however, is that injecting Botox in large doses into a spinal muscle can cause muscle weakness. However, of all the studies done so far, there has not been any case of weakened back muscles (Wheeler 1998; Difazio 2002).
Migraine and Tension Headaches
The FDA has approved the use of Botox to treat migraines. This was after doctors that used Botox to treat eyelid spasms and crossed eyes found that patients reported fewer headaches. This opened the floor for further research, which subsequently moved the FDA enough for it to sign off on the use of Botox to treat migraines in 2010.
Many studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of using Botox to treat migraines. The majority of the studies show that there is a reduction in the severity and incidence of headaches for three to four months after Botox injections. Studies have also shown that patients who get Botox injections significantly reduce their dependence on painkillers (Mauskop 2002; Barrientos 2002). Some patients respond very well after just one treatment session, while others require repeated injections for their symptoms to improve (Mathew 2002; Silberstein 2000; Binder 2000). Simply put, people respond differently to Botox injections. There are physicians that strongly believe that Botox injections can halt or change the course of headaches (Mathew 2002).
When it comes to the treatment of chronic tension headaches using Botox, there is a lot of debate. Some studies suggest there are positive benefits (Relja 1998; Smuts 1999; Schulte-Mattler 1999; Freund 2000), while others claim the treatment has zero effect in reducing pain intensity (Zwart 1994; Gobel 1999).
Another study that involved 271 participants who experienced tension headaches, chronic daily headaches or migraines was done. The study found that the use of Botox injections helped reduce the frequency of headaches by over 50% (Blumenfeld 2003). A whopping 85.6% of the participants reported that their overall symptoms improved significantly after the Botox injections. Out of the 271 participants, only three participants reported eyebrow drooping. All other side effects were pretty minimal.
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