Yup, Botox Can Be Used Therapeutically

Elizabeth Yuko
Yup, Botox Can Be Used Therapeutically
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Photo: Tijana87/Getty Images. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

When many of us hear the word “Botox,” we call to mind images of well-off, mature, white ladies who may or may not have lost the ability to express emotions using their faces. But the truth is, Botox doesn’t just serve cosmetic purposes—there are plenty of therapeutic uses for it, too.

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According to Dr. Ilan Danan, a physician and sports neurologist at the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California, botulinum toxin A is used in a wide variety of clinical settings for therapeutic benefit and relief.

The toxin can be injected into humans in extremely small concentrations and works by preventing signals typically released by nerve cells from reaching muscles, weakening the muscle in the process, Danan explains.

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“In order for a muscle to contract, nerves release a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine at the junction where the nerve cell meets the muscle cell,” he explains. “Acetylcholine attaches to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the muscle cells to contract or shorten. Administration of botulinum toxin results in a decrease in contraction of the muscle cells, allowing muscles to become less stiff.”

Ahead, seven therapeutic uses for Botox—because it can do a whole lot more than smooth out wrinkles.

 

Originally posted on SheKnows.

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STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Pelvic Pain
Pelvic Pain

You might not think of your pelvis first when it comes to body parts that can use Botox, but a 2016 study in the journal Women's Health found that it might help with chronic pain in that area. Specifically, Botox was shown to decrease discomfort stemming from pelvic floor muscle spasm.

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STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Eye Issues
Eye Issues

Botox can be used to treat strabismus (the scientific term for crossed eyes) and blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking of the eye), Dr. Medhat Mikhael, a pain management specialist and medical director of the nonoperative program at the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, explains.

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STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Migraine
Migraine

No, your doctor isn't going to offer you Botox if you've had a few minor headaches, but for those with chronic migraine—defined as a headache lasting greater than 15 days per month for more than three months—it may be an option, Danan says.

As Mikhael explains, "The toxin causes neuromuscular blocking effect at the neuromuscular junction. That causes the muscles to relax and become temporarily and partially paralyzed, and that has a great therapeutic effect."

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STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Muscle Stiffness & Spasms
Muscle Stiffness & Spasms

Muscle stiffness and chronic spasms, like those caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other demyelinating and musculoskeletal disorders, can be treated with Botox, Mikhael and Danan note.

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STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Overactive Bladder
Overactive Bladder

Botox injections are a way of treating overactive bladder, Mikhael says.

Photo: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.
STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Movement Disorders
Movement Disorders

If we've learned one thing about Botox so far, it's that it's good at calming muscles that are spasming or having difficulty with a full range of motion. That's also the case with movement disorders like dystonia and torticollis, for which Botox is commonly used as a treatment, Mikhael says.

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STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Cervical Dystonia
Cervical Dystonia

Cervical dystonia, the most common type of focal dystonia, is characterized by involuntary, oftentimes painful contractions of the cervical muscles resulting in abnormal head postures and movements, Mikhael says, adding that Botox can be used to treat it.

Photo: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

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  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Pelvic Pain
  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Eye Issues
  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Migraine
  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Muscle Stiffness & Spasms
  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Overactive Bladder
  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Movement Disorders
  • STYLECASTER | WaysBotox Is Used Therapeutically | Cervical Dystonia
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