Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Whenever you hear about Botox, one immediately tends to think about cosmetic procedures. Made from the botulinum toxin, Botox is the most common skin-smoothing injections that are in use worldwide. However, what many people do not know is that there are several other medical uses of Botox as well. From treating migraine headaches to getting relief from excessive sweating, Botox injections can be used as an effective treatment for many medical conditions. In fact, Botox is being used widely by doctors of all fields - from neurology to urology, to even podiatry. Read on to find out the medical uses of Botox that are not related to wrinkles and other cosmetic enhancements.

8 Medical Conditions Other Than Wrinkles That Can Be Treated With Botox

Botox was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nearly 30 years ago. Since then, Botox has gone on to become the number one name in cosmetic enhancement. However, over the years, doctors have come to discover that Botox can be effectively used for treating many medical conditions other than wrinkles such as chronic migraines, twitching eyelids, excessive sweating, and even back pain.

While Botox is generally considered to be safe when used in small amounts and when administered by a licensed professional, there are certain risks associated with the drug. While the use of Botox for other medical conditions are not completely approved by the FDA, individuals are, nevertheless, going ahead with the use of this drug for getting relief from many conditions. Nevertheless, the use of Botox for treating certain conditions has also been approved by the FDA.

Some of the medical conditions other than wrinkles where Botox has been used successfully to treat include:

Blepharospasms (Eyelid Twitching)

One of the most effective uses of Botox has been found to be in blepharospasms or eyelid spasms. Botox works well in providing relief from eyelid twitching due to the presence of neurotoxin in the drug. This neurotoxin causes temporary paralysis, blocking the communication between the nerves and the muscles. This effect of Botox is particularly helpful in treating muscles that are spasming.

In fact, when Botox was first approved by the FDA in 1989, the treatment of blepharospasms was also listed as one of its uses.

People suffering from blepharospasms experience an uncontrolled twitching or spasms and the neurons start firing at an increased rate. When this happens, it causes the muscles to go into a state of continuous spasm. This condition happens because the ability to communicate with the basal ganglia gets affected. The basal ganglia are the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling eye movements. Due to this, the patient's eyelids can twitch uncontrollably or become droopy.

Such kind of repetitive facial movements can cause a disruption in one's day to day activities. Since it becomes impossible to keep the eyelids open. This can hamper one's ability to drive and even see properly.

When Botox is injected at the affected muscle, it forms a kind of 'blockade' at the junction where the nerves communicate with the muscles. Botox blocks the particular receptor and cuts off its access to the nerves, paralyzing the muscles associated with that nerve.

Chronic Migraines

The treatment of chronic migraines with the use of Botox has actually been approved by the FDA. This medical use of Botox was actually discovered in 1992 by a plastic surgeon, Dr. William Binder, who observed that patients who were treated with Botox for wrinkles, actually reported getting fewer headaches. Later on, Botox was tested on people suffering from chronic migraines and was approved for the treatment of migraines in 2010.

However, there are some doctors who question the actual effectiveness of botox in treating migraine or whether it only serves as a placebo. Nevertheless, Botox is today extensively used for treating chronic migraines. Botox works in preventing migraine pain by disrupting the communication of pain messages to the brain. People who are undergoing migraine treatment with Botox receive 31 injections at different spots on the neck and the head, which is expected to provide relief from a migraine for at least three to four months.

Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Known commonly as crossed eyes, strabismus is another condition where Botox has shown to work. Botox has also received approval for the treatment of this condition.

While strabismus can be a congenital issue where children are born with crossed eyes, it can also occur from a blunt trauma to the eyes. Surgery is usually the method used for correcting this condition, but it has been found that a Botox injection helps relax the eye muscles, giving an uncrossed eye look.

Those who do not want to undergo a surgery for fixing crossed eyes, they are using Botox for relaxing the eye muscles. The effect lasts for three to four months, after which the injection has to be repeated.

Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating, particularly underarm sweating, is another condition that is often treated with Botox injections. This use of Botox also has been approved by the FDA. This treatment came before when doctors began to notice that patients who were being treated with Botox for facial spasms were also sweating less. When the effects of Botox were studied further on the condition of severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating. Since 2004, Botox has been approved for the treatment of not just excessive underarm sweating, but also for treating sweaty palms and feet.

Shaky Vocal Cords (Spasmodic Dysphonia)

The condition of spasmodic dysphonia is known to make the sound coming from your vocal cords shaky or hoarse. The voice can also sound strained. This condition is not considered to be a speech disorder, but rather it is known as a neurological disorder.

People suffering from spasmodic dysphonia begin to receive abnormal signals from the brain that leads to uncontrolled spasms in the voice. Several studies have found that Botox injections to the vocal cords are known to weaken the muscles present there, helping smoothen out the voice. It also helps keep your voice steady. Spasmodic dysphonia is known to disrupt people's lives and their ability to communicate. Treatment with Botox has been shown to not only correct the problem, though temporarily, it also helps change a person's life, helping them communicate without any problem.

Hypersalivation (Drooling)

Botox is typically injected through the ear, the nose, or the throat. This is why Botox is known to help treat the problem of drooling or hypersalivation. When Botox is injected directly into the salivary glands, it helps in paralyzing the nerves present there, stopping the over-production of saliva.

Overactive Bladder

Treatment of an overactive bladder has been approved by the FDA. Studies have shown that Botox injections help people have lesser leakages during the day. However, there is a side effect to using Botox injections for an overactive bladder. In some people, Botox can actually stop the functioning of the bladder altogether, forcing people to use a catheter to pass urine.

Bell's Palsy

Botox has shown improvements in people suffering from Bell's palsy. Bell's palsy is a condition in which the facial nerves get paralyzed, causing drooping on one half of the face. The condition is typically caused when a specific cranial nerve gets stimulated. This occurs generally during pregnancy, diabetes, or along with conditions such as Lyme disease.

While Bell's palsy is a temporary condition, Botox injections help provide relief to the paralyzed facial muscles, aiding in a faster recovery.

Conclusion

While Botox has been proven to be helpful in the treatment of many conditions other than wrinkles, it is still not a miracle drug. It does not work for everybody and there may be side effects when used for medical conditions rather than wrinkles. If you find that the treatment is not working for you, you should not take too much time to eventually switch from Botox injections to other medications or products.

Since Botox is ultimately a toxin, our body starts to develop a tolerance to it after a period of time, causing the medication to wear off after some time. The effects of Botox will vary from person to person, but it has generally been observed that the drug wears off within three to four months. This is why Botox is still only a temporary solution to these medical conditions and you may need to opt for other medical treatments after a period of time.

Also Read:

References

Mathew, N.T., Frishberg, B.M., Gawel, M., Dimitrova, R., Gibson, J. and Turkel, C., 2005. Botulinum toxin type A (BOTOX®) for the prophylactic treatment of chronic daily headache: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 45(4), pp.293-307.

Chen, S., 2012. Clinical uses of botulinum neurotoxins: current indications, limitations and future developments. Toxins, 4(10), pp.913-939.

Gomez, F., " BOTOX for Migraines?.

Schlereth, T., Mouka, I., Eisenbarth, G., Winterholler, M. and Birklein, F., 2005. Botulinum toxin A (Botox®) and sweating-dose efficacy and comparison to other BoNT preparations. Autonomic Neuroscience, 117(2), pp.120-126.

Heckmann, M., Ceballos-Baumann, A.O. and Plewig, G., 2001. Botulinum toxin A for axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). New England Journal of Medicine, 344(7), pp.488-493.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: November 19, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest