Mostly everyone thinks of Botox as the cosmetic injection used to mask facial wrinkles. And although that’s what it’s mostly used for, Botox may also be a successful treatment for migraines, back pain, profuse sweating, TMJ, and perhaps even depression.

Botox in the Beginning

Originally, botulinum toxin type A (Botox) was used to help relax/paralyze muscles that created “crossed eyes.” That was back in 1970’s. In 1989, the FDA approved the use of Botox for that eye condition and also abnormal eyelid spasms. In the 1990’s, a company named Allergen purchased the Botox product for approximately 9-million dollars.
In 2002, it was approved for cosmetic use (with specific dosage) to treat frown lines between the eyebrows. In 2010, Botox was given FDA approval to be used as a treatment for migraine headaches. Today, there are several off-label uses for Botox, which have not yet been approved by the FDA. However, it isn’t stopping people from using it. Currently, it reports a revenue of over 2 ½ billion dollars, most of it from treating wrinkles.

Doctors and Studies

Botox basically “blocks the junction between a nerve and a muscle.” Injected in small doses, the product paralyzes the muscle for a period of time (usually up to 3-5 months.) Discontinued use of whichever muscle is chosen in the treatment can relieve a person’s pain. Cosmetically, it keeps the face from repeating habitual movement, thus lessening the “wrinkled” effects in the skin.
Botox is not a permanent treatment; it must be administered every few months to maintain desired results. Dr. Dave Campbell, a renown spine surgeon and founder of GetThrive sometimes prescribes Botox to patients with migraines. Dr. Campbell believes FDA approval for uses of the product are an important aspect in keeping treatments safe.
After all, Botox is produced from bacteria (Clostridium botulinum)—a bacteria that is 40 million times more powerful than cyanide. Off-label uses may not yet have the research and data from trials of treatments. With proper implementation and dosage Botox can be a successful treatment for particular ailments; however without FDA approval, physicians are taking risks using the product for overactive bladder, facial tics, muscle spasms, and other not-yet approved therapies.

Off-Label Uses

Two of the most current off-label uses of Botox are for relief of TMJ (temporomandibular jaw disorder) and depression. With TMJ, a patient may experience pain in the jaw, around the ear, difficulty chewing, and clicking when opening the mouth. Dentists or other physicians can use Botox to paralyze the masseter muscles in the jaw. This will keep the patient from grinding his teeth or clenching his jaw. The results are pain relief and an extended period where the jaw’s action takes a rest. Secondary pain in the shoulders and neck can also dissipate.
Researchers at the Hannover Medical School in Germany have found that injections of Botox in select facial muscles help to relieve symptoms of depression. Professor Tillman Kruger explained the process this way: “Our emotions are expressed by facial muscles, which in turn send feedback signals to the brain to reinforce those emotions. Treating facial muscles with botulinum toxin interrupts this cycle.” In their 2014 study, after just one Botox treatment, the participants experienced an average of 40% reduction in depression symptoms.

The Warnings

Most insurance will not cover the use of Botox for cosmetic purposes. If it’s an off-label use, chances are it will not be covered either.
You need to follow the explicit directions from your physician after being treated with Botox. The drug can move or migrate to other unintended areas of your body and cause potentially serious side effects. Known adverse affects that can occur are muscle weakness, horse voice, double vision, and bruising. There is no remedy for Botox gone bad except to wait for it to wear off.
With all this said, millions of people are regularly using Botox for various purposes. As with any “drug”, you’ll want to use your personal discretion before putting it in your body. For more details about health, pain management, and beauty, check out