While Botox injections have been used primarily to smoothen wrinkles such as frown lines, crow’s feet and forehead furrows, its many revolutionary medical applications still continue to surprise the medical community.
Botox was first being used by ophthalmologists in 1977 to treat strabismus or crossed eyes (the eyes are unable to align with each other when looking at an object). The cause of lazy eye or crossed eyes is due to an imbalance in muscles strength responsible for positioning the eye. If one of the muscles grow weak, the stronger muscle will pull the eye the other way, resulting in the eye looking in a different direction. By injecting botox into the stronger muscle to relax it, the weaker one will be allowed to recover and regain strength.
While botox cannot cure these eye disorders, the results can significantly improve the quality of life of the patients. The treatment will need to be repeated every 4-6 months.
Bruxism or teeth grinding can cause headaches, jaw pain, shoulder pain, loss of enamel, increased teeth sensitivity and eroding/chipping of teeth. Treatment with botox can provide relief from teeth grinding by relaxing the masseter muscles, which are muscles responsible for grinding and chewing.
By relaxing the masseter muscles, one can also soften the appearance of a square jawline. This is in fact one of the most popular aesthetic methods to achieve face slimming and a V-shaped face.
For chronic migraine sufferers, the botulinum toxin can help to reduce the frequency of headaches. Multiple injections around the head and neck have been shown to be effective in dulling and preventing migraines. In 2010, the FDA has approved the use of botox to fight migraines, based on the results of two studies involving 1,384 adults in North America and Europe.
Strong sweating (hyperhidrosis) at the palms can affect our daily activities significantly such as during hand shaking, writing on paper, gripping tools, holding hands with your loved ones or playing musical instruments, etc.
Surgery is usually the last option as it involves removing a nerve from inside the chest to permanently disrupt the nerve signal that controls sweating. However, it may lead to compensatory sweating at other parts of the body, e.g. at the back or lower abdomen, resulting in another set of problems in life.
A better treatment option for sweaty palms is to inject botox into the palms directly, to block the nerve signal from being sent to the sweat gland and hence, stopping the perspiration. Although it is a temporary cure, one can avoid the issue of compensatory sweating. The results can last up to 6 months.
Botox injections had also been shown to reduce underarm and body odour by shutting down the sweat glands.
Brain trauma often results in increase of muscle tone and spasm. Studies have shown that botox can help stroke patients regain movement and control in their arms and legs by relaxing the contracted muscles. It is often used by rehabilitation physicians in the hospital to facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from brain injury.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that presents with tremor, rigidity, slowness, abnormal spasm and twitching of muscle. Botox is helpful in relieving drooling and dystonia associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Drooling (as a result of slowness in swallowing) is one of the symptoms that pose various negative physical and social consequences for the patient. Botox injected into the salivary glands can prevent drooling by reducing the production of saliva.
Dystonia is contraction of a muscle that results in an abnormal positioning of the body part and can be quite painful. By relaxing the over active muscle group, botox has proven to be useful in treating this problem.
An overactive bladder contracts too often or without warning, leading to a constant urge to urinate frequently. Botox was first approved by FDA to treat an overactive bladder in 2013 by calming the nerves that overstimulate the bladder.
Botox is not ‘toxic’ and is a useful medicine that can help in many diseases and improve the lives of patients. Treating wrinkles and aesthetic treatments with botox are just one of the many uses of botox. Let’s keep an open mind about this wonderful medicine and remove any negative label on it.
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