Botox® is famous for its cosmetic use: treating the area between eyebrows where frown lines develop, as well as the sides of the eyes where crow’s feet form. Since moderate to severe wrinkles show up where muscles are particularly active, Botox® improves the appearance of wrinkle-plagued areas by limiting muscle activity in precisely targeted areas.
The injectable cosmetic works by preventing chemical messages sent by the brain from arriving at their intended destination in the facial muscles that contract when we frown, scowl, or squint.
Those signal-blocking properties also make it ideal for a range of other medical issues, including fighting migraines, excessive sweating, and muscle spasms. Read on to learn more about the many FDA-approved uses of Botox®.
Botox® and Migraines
Migraine sufferers know the torture of what’s more than just a bad headache. Just one migraine can involve throbbing pain, visual and aural disruptions, light sensitivity, and nausea. The whole event can last a few hours or a few days.
Chronic migraine sufferers are people who have at least 15 such episodes a month, each lasting at least four hours.
For patients in that category, Botox® can help by cutting that number in half or more. Studies have shown that injections can stop up to nine headache days before they start in a single month. This is known as a preventative treatment, as opposed to an acute treatment that merely manages the symptoms.
For patients seeking this treatment, a doctor will inject Botox® into key areas once every 12 weeks. Patients have reported a reduction in the number of days they experience migraines a month after two sessions.
Botox® and Hyperhydrosis
Excessive sweating-technically known as hyperhidrosis-is an uncomfortable and often embarrassing condition that can interfere with day-to-day life. While someone who suffers from this medical problem has many options when it comes to treating it, from prescription anti-perspirants to surgery, a doctor may recommend Botox® as a means of controlling the symptoms.
Patients who receive this treatment to combat hyperhidrosis will receive 15 or so injections in their underarm area. The actual injection process should take less than 20 minutes, while the results can last for more than six months.
This works similar to the way Botox® acts as a wrinkle-fighting injectable, in that the treatment prevents signals sent by the brain from arriving at their intended destination. In this case, the message isn’t to prompt muscles to contract, but to tell glands to produce sweat. If the glands don’t get the signal, they simply don’t do their job-reducing the amount of sweat produced under your arms.
Keep in mind that this treatment is only for underarm sweating, and patients who get the injections will still continue to sweat normally everywhere else they typically sweat.
Botox® and Muscle Spasms and Spasticity
The medical term for neck muscles that uncontrollably spasm and tighten is cervical dystonia. The problem can range from uncomfortable to painful, and can get worse over time.
It should be no surprise by now to learn that the signal-blocking properties of Botox® make it an ideal treatment in this case, since injections of the drug in key areas keep most or any muscle-contracting signals from getting through to their target.
Botox® is such a proven treatment for cervical dystonia, many doctors consider it to be the go-to solution, recommending it before and above other options.
The prescription injectable is also a treatment for eyelid spasms, known as blepharospasms, as well as upper-limb spasticity, which is an often-painful series of muscle contractions that cause sufferers to involuntarily tighten muscles in their elbow, wrist, and fingers.
More to Learn About Botox®
Botox® has other uses as well, including as an FDA-approved injection to combat incontinence. Talk to a doctor to learn more about Botox® in its many forms, from cosmetic to medical.