Perhaps the most prevalent and well-known use of Botox is cosmetic. But did you know there are also several other common medical uses for Botox?
Botox is a drug made from botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and related species. This is the same toxin that causes the rare but serious type of illness from food poisoning called botulism.
Ironically though, doctors can use it in small doses to treat a variety of health problems by hijacking the toxin’s temporary effects to methodically weaken or paralyze certain muscles or block certain nerves.
Injecting little doses of this toxin into strategic areas of the face and neck creates a “fountain of youth” boost to temporarily smooth lines and wrinkles and improve the overall appearance of the skin. The same properties that temporarily make you look 10 years younger can also temporarily alleviate the symptoms and causes of various medical problems.
Here are 7 surprising medical uses for Botox.
One of the most surprising, yet common medical uses for Botox is for the alleviation of chronic migraines.
Chronic migraine is defined as a headache occurring on 15 or more days a month for more than 3 months. Additionally, at least 8 of those days per month must have the features of a full migraine headache.
While using Botox to treat patients for wrinkles in 1992, Dr. William J. Binder noticed that his patients who also had symptoms of migraine headaches were reporting alleviated pain after treatments. After more studies following this discovery, the FDA finally approved Botox as a medical treatment for adults with chronic migraines on October 15, 2010.
Doctors believe Botox works for this condition because it blocks neurotransmitters that carry pain signals in the brain. When periodically injected into seven key areas in the head and neck, Botox can prevent migraines from occurring as frequently and lessen their effects.
Another one of the interesting medical uses for Botox is for eye twitching.
Botox is considered to be the best form of treatment for this condition. Periodic injections weaken the muscles that control the eyelid, helping to relieve any spasms and mitigate resulting symptoms.
Another one of the medical uses for Botox that affects the eyes is to treat strabismus, or crossed eyes.
Strabismus is a condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time. This is usually due to poor eye muscle control or farsightedness. Botox has been used to safely and effectively treat this condition for several decades. After anesthetic drops numb the eye, doctors inject Botox directly into the eye muscle using a special needle connected to an electromyogram.
Cervical dystonia (neck spasms) is a painful condition in which your neck muscles involuntarily contract. This causes the head to twist or turn to one side, or tilt backward or forward uncontrollably.
While there is no cure for this condition, another of the significant medical uses for Botox is that injection into affected muscles can lead to an improvement in pain and dystonic symptoms in up to 90% of patients.
Hyperhidrosis is abnormally excessive sweating that is not necessarily caused by heat or exercise. Treatments for this condition largely depends on where the excessive sweating is occurring on your body.
One of the FDA approved medical uses for Botox is to treat hyperhidrosis in the underarms, where small amounts of a weak form of this medicine are injected in several areas. Other areas for which this treatment may be effective are the scalp, hands, and feet, although more research is needed to be conclusive.
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control. Muscles in the bladder contract involuntarily even when the volume of urine is low, causing you to feel the need to urinate several times throughout the day and night, and sometimes even unintentional urination (urge incontinence).
In January 2013, the FDA approved the treatment of OAB as one of the medical uses for Botox, although it has been used as an effective treatment for this condition for over 20 years. Doctors inject the Botox under local anesthesia directly into the muscle of the bladder using a small needle passed through a scope connected to a camera.
While all of the above medical uses for Botox are FDA approved, many were used as treatments to their conditions well before the approval was official. Some conditions that are currently using Botox as an unofficial treatment and therefore considered “off-label” include depression, alopecia, abnormal heartbeat, severely cold hands, cleft lip scars in babies, and premature ejaculation, just to name a few.
Clearly this little “wonder drug” has a seemingly endless array of possible applications, many that may have yet to be discovered. But let’s be honest, making us look a decade or so younger is probably still our favorite one.
And, of course, always seek professional medical counsel before considering any of these treatments.
Like this content and want more? Check out our blog here!