Botox Bacteria May Help Back Pain

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“Dear Pharmacist,

I have a long history of back problems and I’ve been to every conceivable doctor, therapist and healer. Is there anything new that can help?”

–FD Naples, Florida

Bacteria may help. The same bacterial toxin that causes food poisoning, botulinum (pronounced botch-you-line-um) may also be the relief that many back pain sufferers have been praying for. We’ll call it Botox for short. Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center found that people who received injections of the Botox bacteria felt better for up to 4 months. The study was small, consisting of 31 people who had back problems for about 6 years. But to the 90 percent of Americans who buckle or go numb at the slightest strain, this is no small study. The American economy loses about $50 billion dollars each year as a result of back pain. After three weeks, 73 percent of the study group said their back pain diminished by at least half. Repeated injections were necessary to maintain comfort, but aside from mild flu-like symptoms, the treatment was well tolerated. Using Botox as medicine is nothing new. As a matter of fact, Botox is currently used to treat muscle spasms, migraines, and wrinkles. For physicians interested in this study, look in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.