11/08/02 - Botox for Medicinal Purposes

Thursday we told you how women are spending big bucks to have Botox injected into their faces, hoping it will lessen their wrinkles. But Botox isn't just used for cosmetic purposes, it's been around for years to treat different medical conditions. Several years ago, Botox was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, to treat things like muscle spasms and twitches. The patients who rely on Botox to ease pain, say it's something they can't live without.
Botox patient Sue Truax says, "In my neck, it's a pulling pain. In my back, it just feels like a sharp pain, trying to get out."
Six years ago, Truax's life changed forever, when doctors diagnosed her with dystonia, a muscle disorder that limits her movement. At one time a very active person, putting together scrapbooks is how she spends most of her time these days. She says without Botox injections every three months she may not be able to even do that. "That's the only thing they have to quiet it down for the pain," Truax says. "It's not 100 percent effective but it helps."
Anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Moore says, "We use these things for injections in the neck, shoulder, any muscles you can have pain in." The Botox used to take away the pain, is the same used to take away wrinkles. The only difference, "With the case of the pain, muscles are different, not necessarily muscles of facial expression," Dr. Moore says. Dr. Moore mixes the Botox powder with saline solution to prepare it for injections. His wife and patient Rebecca Moore suffers from chronic back pain. She's had Botox injections before. "What they found is with Botox, you get longer results and better results," Dr. Moore says.
But doctors warn there are disadvantages of Botox when using it for pain. Patients may have flu-like symptoms for a few days after the injections. The results are temporary. Patients will have to get injections every three to six months to keep their muscles relaxed. And you can develop antibodies against Botox, making your body immune to it. But despite all that, Moore says she wouldn't go without Botox. "I don't feel anything except relief."
Botox is expensive when used for medicinal purposes. It can cost several hundred, to a few thousand dollars a treatment. But, most insurance companies cover the cost.