01 Jul Is botox really an effective remedy for chronic pain
Is botox really an effective remedy for chronic pain?
Neurologist Dr Jason Gu explains how Botox works: “It blocks the release of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, from cholinergic motor and autonomic nerves. When injected into muscle, it can provide relief from spasm. When injected under the skin, it can reduce sweat gland secretion.”
So if Botox can make such a difference, why don’t more people know about it? Gu says part of the problem lies in awareness.
“I find that many patients and their GPs are unaware that a referral to the correct specialist may help them to access the botulinum toxin through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which significantly reduces the cost.
“However, this is on the basis that the patient has specific conditions. These include muscle spasms around the eyes, face and neck, excessive sweating, spasticity following stroke and chronic migraines.”
Gu adds that Botox treatment is not off limits for other ailments. “We still may try injections in some situations that are not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, such as spasticity in tremor, multiple sclerosis, and sialorrhea – which is excess saliva production.”
Lynnette Turner, 49, believes the increased use of Botox for therapeutic purposes is partly fuelled by social media momentum.
“I first heard about Botox as a migraine treatment from people in closed Facebook groups,” she says. “Now I want more people to know about it. When the Botox starts to work and that chronic pain goes away, it changes everything. You can’t explain that feeling.”
Gu says that this sense of wonder is not unusual. “People have been living with these conditions for so long that they become accepting of the symptoms. This is despite the tremendous impact that botulinum toxin can have on both their social and their professional lives.”
By Siobhán Doran-Chaston
This is an excerpt from an article which appeared in Sunday Life magazine
Sunday Age June 30 2019.
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