Most people associate BOTOX with cosmetic treatments, but actually, BOTOX first received FDA approval in the late 1980s as a treatment for eye spasms and strabismus (“crossed eyes”). BOTOX is a neuromuscular agent that works by blocking the nerve pathways that transmit signals from specific muscles to the brain. When injected into a treatment area, BOTOX binds to nerve cells and prevents chemical reactions associated with nerve signaling. By controlling the nerves, BOTOX also controls muscle contractions, including the contractions responsible for wrinkle formation and those associated with painful spasms.
BOTOX is widely used in the treatment of an array of medical conditions, including:
arthritis, especially when over-the-counter medications are ineffective
back pain, with results lasting up to four months
neuropathy (nerve pain) in the hands, feet, and legs, including carpal tunnel syndrome
hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating
It’s also used to relieve painful spasms in the neck and shoulders, and to treat ophthalmic issues like strabismus (“crossed eyes”) and blepharospasm (uncontrollable blinking or squinting).
BOTOX injections are applied to multiple areas around the head and neck. Up to 39 injections may be administered in a single treatment, with results lasting for several years in many patients. BOTOX injections have been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches and to reduce the severity of symptoms when headaches do occur.
To some degree, the injection procedure will vary based on the location of the injections, the condition or symptoms being treated, the severity of those symptoms and other factors. In general, BOTOX injections begin following a careful evaluation to determine the optimal placement of the injection sites. Next, the sites are carefully cleansed and a local anesthetic may be used to numb the area. Creams and special sprays can also be used to numb the injection sites. BOTOX is injected using very fine needles so discomfort is minimal, and some patients may opt to have injections without topical or local numbing agents. Once the injection procedure is complete, it’s important not to rub the area to prevent dispersing the material outside the treatment zone. Patients can resume their normal activities right after treatment.