Long used to smooth out wrinkles, there’s a new twist in the tale of Botox. This botulism-derived toxin is being increasingly used for medical purposes. It’s now approved to treat 10 different ailments, including major migraines.
“The important factors to decide is: are the headaches frequent enough and causing enough disability to need preventative medicine? Botox is another option. It has been used in teenagers with some success,” says Dr. Guillermo Phillips, pediatric neurologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Botox works by blocking nerve impulses to the injected muscles, which allows them to relax. Although the paralyzing affect is temporary, doctors continue to realize its value in providing relief to their patients.
Earlier this year Botox was approved to treat leaky, or overactive, bladders.
“We know it’s not going to solve their problem, our hope is that it decrease frequency, urgency therefore the act of the leakage,” says Dr. Harry Tsai, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Botox is also used to treat muscle spasticity in juvenile cerebral palsy, excessive sweating and eye twitching.
Angela Crider is now a Botox believer. She takes injections for her gastroparesis, a painful disorder where the stomach is slow to empty.
“When I don't have the Botox I’m pretty much on liquids; no food at all,” says Crider.
“Unlike the medications you take orally that stimulate the nerve, Botox is just the opposite it actually paralyzes the muscle. And when you do that you allow the stomach to empty more easily,” says Dr. Michael Bays, gastroenterologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
So this popular cosmetic treatment is proving to have much deeper benefits.