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Is Botox Effective for Chronic Back Pain Management?


Updated June 13, 2014

Question: Is Botox Effective for Chronic Back Pain Management?

Botox injections have been tried for the management of back and neck pain, as well as headaches. Botox is a poison that can paralyze nerves. The theory behind using Botox as back and neck pain medicine is that it interrupts the signals that go from nerves to muscles, and increases range of motion (ROM).

Despite the increase in popularity of this treatment, no convincing evidence of its effectiveness has been found. In fact, the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent organization that reviews medical literature to learn about the validity of treatments, noted that Botox injections appear to be no better than injections of saline solution for decreasing pain or disability due to mechanical neck disorders. And, in a physician review of medical literature, meant to help guide doctors' practices, Botox was not recommended as a treatment of chronic pain.

In the hands of the wrong person, Botox can have devastating effects on the nervous system. This is because, until it is properly diluted and prepared, it remains poisionous. If Botox is used as a treatment for back or neck pain, it should be administered by a licensed medical doctor with experience working with the substance as a medicine.

As with anything on the market, it is important to be aware of potentially unscrupulous and/or inept medical care. About's Patient Empowerment site has more information on that, exposing the dangers of fake Botox injections that paralyzed patients and landed doctors in jail.

Sanders, S.H., Harden, N., Benson, S.E., & Vicente, P.J. (1999). Clinical practice guidelines for chronic non-malignant pain syndrome patients II: an evidence-based approach. J Back Musculoskeletal Rehabil, 13, Retrieved Feb 21 2007, from http://guidelines.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=8014&nbr=4500.

Cervical Overview Group, Peloso, P., Gross, A., Haines, T., & Trinh, K. (2007). Medicinal and Injection Therapies for Mechanical Neck Disorders. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 1, Retrieved Feb 18 2007, from http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab000319.html.

Barbano, R., M.D. (2006). Risks of easing wrinkles: Buyer beware! Neurology Patient Page 67. Retrieved Feb 18 2007.

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  8. Is Botox Effective for Chronic Back Pain Management?

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