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.footnote 1
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
unlabeled use. Severe side effects have been
Waseem Z, et al. (2011). Botulinum toxin injections for low-back pain and sciatica (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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