A new study has given light to yet another dimension of Botox Injections - As a pain reliever for patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis, resulting not only in easing severe pains but also in increasing the functionality.
According to Maren Mahowald, M.D., of Minneapolis VA Medical Center, the preliminary research was presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, which shows, in an interim data from a randomized placebo-controlled trial, injections of botulinum toxin type A significantly reduced severe pain and improved function.
Botox, the most common and popular cosmetic treatment, is a pure form of botulinum toxin type A. Botox research is being currently carried out for treating various conditions like excessive sweating, eye disorders and certain neurological problems apart from treatment of headache, ringing in the ears, overactive bladder, diabetic nerve pain and much more. These studies have got the approval of FDA.
Researcher Maren Mahowald, M.D., rheumatology section chief at the Minneapolis Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis said that injecting Botox in the knee joint relieves pain and results in improved functioning after one month for people suffering from severe knee Osteoarthritis. She also added: 'the treatment could hopefully become a viable option for patients who do not qualify for joint reconstruction because of age or frailty'
Researchers studied 37 patients, injecting both Botox injection and saline placebo into their knee joints; patients injected with placebo, after a month's trial, were dropped out, as they showed no improvements. On the contrary, after a month, Botox injected patients with severe pain showed a positive decrease of pain and improvement in functioning.
But, Mahowald points out that it's still early, 'Patients often have continued decreases in pain and improvements in function after one to two months. And I think there will be more improvements at the three-month evaluation. However the longevity of the effect would be determined only after the six-month evaluation.' One to three injections per year may be needed to control knee pain, but these injections may obviate the need for knee surgery - She added.
When Botox was used in the treatment of cervical dystonia, it resulted in muscle weakness, but such effects were not seen when the toxin was injected into the knee joint. 'Since we are not injecting it into the muscle, we do not see any weakness to the limb,' she says. 'We use a very small dose and there are no significant adverse effects due to injection. Therefore, Botox treatments seem to be extremely safe, she adds.'
Doctors say, 'because it's injected directly into the arthritic joint, it doesn't cause the stomach bleeding, high blood pressure and other side effects triggered by my arthritis pain medication,' reported CTV's Avis Favaro.
Robert L. Wortmann, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of rheumatology at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa, said: 'It's too early to say for sure what role injections of Botox may play in knee OA'. He adds 'if it does have a positive effect in knee OA, it will likely have an effect in hip OA as well.'