Botox Works on Muscle Disorders But Not Migraines

MONDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Botulinum toxin, known to many as Botox, is safe and effective to prevent excessive sweating of the armpits and hands and to treat many involuntary muscle disorders, newly published guidelines suggest.

But while it may rid your brow of unwanted wrinkles and lines, it probably does not help combat migraines and chronic tension headaches.

The guidelines, developed by the American Academy of Neurology and published in the May 6 issue of Neurology,, reinforce that botulinum toxin has become an effective treatment for numerous movement disorders associated with excessive muscle contraction.

The new guidelines approve its use for treating cervical dystonia, a condition of involuntary head tilt or neck movement; involuntary facial contractions, involuntary eye closure, focal limb dystonias (such as writer's cramp), essential tremor and some spastic bladder disorders. The drug is injected directly into affected muscles.

The guidelines were developed by researchers who reviewed and analyzed all available scientific studies on botulinum toxin. The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation endorsed the guidelines.

The finding that botulinum toxin probably does not help relieve migraine or chronic tension headaches surprised the researchers.

"Based on currently available data, botulinum toxin injections should not be offered to patients with episodic migraine and chronic tension-type headaches," pain guidelines author Dr. Markus Naumann, head of the Department of Neurology at Augsburg Hospital in Germany, said in a prepared statement. "It is no better than placebo injections for these types of headache."

While the research suggested the drug may help relieve low back pain, more study was needed before sanctioning it as treatment option, he said.

More information

The National Migraine Association has more about migraine treatment.

SOURCE: The American Academy of Neurology, news release, May 5, 2008

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