Botox, which is short for botulinum toxin, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for non-cosmetic purposes since 1978.
Better known in recent years for its many benefits as an anti-wrinkle treatment, Botox® has become a staple in the cosmetic industry.
Botox® is also regularly employed for medical purposes you may not be familiar. It has more than 800 potential uses and science continues to find new ways to utilize it to address a wide range of medical conditions.
Some medical uses of Botox® have been approved by the FDA. However, like many other prescription medications, Botox® is also used in ways considered “off label.” It’s the huge potential in those off-label applications of botulinum toxin that’s creating excitement throughout various areas of the medical industry.
Below are 15 ways Botox® is used that you may have not known…
1. Chronic Migraines
The benefits of Botox® for debilitating migraines were discovered by accident when those who received the treatment for cosmetic reasons reported a reduction in migraines. Botox® was FDA-approved for the treatment of migraines in 2010 and the effects last approximately three months.
2. Facial Spasms
Blepharospasm is a condition marked by sustained and involuntary closing of the eyelids. The muscle contractions can be painful and range from mild twitching to forceful closure. Symptoms may last for only a few days, but typically return and can result in functional blindness. Botox® is effective for disrupting the nerve impulses that cause the closing, blinking and spasms, along with other conditions that cause spasms of the facial muscles.
3. Excessive Underarm Sweating
The effectiveness of Botox® for treating excessive underarm sweating was discovered incidentally due to treatments for facial spasms. Physicians began to notice that their patients being treated for facial spasms weren’t sweating as much.
An added benefit is that underarm odor was rated as less unpleasant in those who had Botox® treatment. Approved for the use of excessive underarm sweating in 2004, it’s also used as a treatment for people experiencing excessive sweating on the hands and feet.
4. Stress Incontinence
Millions of men and women suffer from stress incontinence – involuntary urine leakage when you cough, sneeze, laugh, lift and exercise. It can also occur during sex. Botox® provides effective relief and improves quality of life for anyone experiencing the embarrassment of stress incontinence. Results vary, but it can last for up to one year in some individuals.
5. Dental Health
Research is at the experimental stage for how Botox® can aid in treating TMJ disorder, jaw tension and lock jaw. Botox® relaxes facial muscles to minimize symptoms and assist in reducing occurrences. It’s also effective if you’re having problems adjusting to dentures or when retraining facial muscles is required.
6. Severe Neck Spasms
Cervical dystonia is a disorder in which an abnormal head position results in severe neck pain. The FDA approved Botox® in 2000 as a treatment for the condition. Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are the traditional treatments, while Botox® disrupts pain signals that travel along neuro-pathways.
7. Crossed Eyes
Approximately 4 percent of Americans experience a condition commonly known as crossed eyes in which the eyes are misaligned and both don’t face in the same direction. The treatment is performed in-office and the eye to be treated is numbed first. The results typically lasts for 3-4 months and with repeated Botox® treatments, the effects have the potential to last longer.
Though not FDA approved, many clinicians are relieving the symptoms of depression is some patients with Botox®. Several studies have been conducted with promising results, but clinical trials are ongoing. In a 2014 study, 52 percent of people with major depressive disorder that were treated reported a reduction in symptoms six weeks later.
9. Drooling in Parkinson’s Disease
One of the unpleasant and embarrassing effects of Parkinson’s disease is drooling that can occur as a result of loss of muscle function. Researchers have found that Botox® was effective in reducing the amount of saliva produced, resulting in less drooling.
10. Muscle Stiffness
Muscle stiffness can occur as a result of the aging process and a wide variety of injuries. Botox® is being used to reduce muscle spasticity in the fingers, wrist and elbow. It aids in alleviating the exaggerated jerk of deep tendons that can occur.
11. Erectile Dysfunction
Typically used to relax muscles, Botox® may be a solution for men experiencing erectile dysfunction. While Botox® hasn’t been used in human trials, it’s shown a great deal of promise in the lab by increasing blood flow to the penis. It’s believed the effects would last for up to six months, reduce the need for pills and pumps, and be especially beneficial for men with cancer or chronic diseases.
12. Painful Sex
If you’re one of the women that experience vaginal contractions or muscle spasms of the pelvic floor, Botox® is being explored as a treatment for the painful condition. It relaxes muscles and stops them from making the contractions that can result in pain during sex. Researchers estimate that the treatment can be effective for up to six months for some women, while it may be effective for up to a year for others.
13. Abnormal Heartbeat
After open heart and bypass surgery, many patients experience abnormal heartbeat patterns. Botox® is being explored by the product’s makers as a preventative therapy against developing irregular heart rhythms.
14. Cleft Lip Scars
More than 2,000 babies are born each year with a cleft palate and an additional 4,400 have a cleft lip. Surgery has always been the method used to repair the problem, which can leave significant scars depending upon the severity. Some clinicians are working with Botox® as a means to minimize the scars in infants left by the surgery. It’s an entirely new use for Botox® and one that hasn’t been FDA-approved.
15. Really Cold Hands
If you’re one of the many people that regularly feel like your hands have been in a deep freeze, you’re not alone. Many people experience severely cold hands due to poor circulation, thyroid disease or nervous system problems. It’s not approved by the FDA, but physicians who have worked with Botox® off-label for the condition report the effects can last for up to three months.
Always Consult with Your Physician
The FDA has approved numerous medical-related uses for Botox®, but many are still considered off-label. Always consult with your medical professional to discuss your specific symptoms, concerns and answer questions. Your physician has extensive experience and can provide expert guidance on the best treatment for your particular concerns.