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Botox Could Help Treat Tennis Elbow

April 30, 2010

The drug Botox, which smoothes facial wrinkles and fine lines through injections, can be much more than just a cosmetic filler, claims a new research. It turns out that Botox shots can also help individuals who suffer from so-called "tennis elbow."

However, the researchers at the Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex at Tehran University in Iran warn that the injections must be carefully administered only by a certified medical practitioner, so there are no harmful side effects.

Tennis elbow, the common name for lateral epicondylitis, is associated with pain and inflammation in the upper arm near the elbow, and affects mostly individuals who repeatedly move their wrists or forearms while participating in activities like tennis. Studies have demonstrated that between 1 and 3 per cent of the population are affected by the condition.

To come up with the conclusion that Botox may relieve tennis elbow pain, the Iranian scientists injected 48 patients who suffered from the condition with botulinum toxin. None of these patients were satisfied with previous treatments. The investigators customized the injection sites based on the length of each participant's forearm instead of administering shots at the same location in each person. According to the study's principal author, Dr. S.M. Javad Mortazavi, the effectiveness of this treatment largely rests on the location of the shot, which must be performed as close as possible to the neuromuscular junction plates to ensure proper paralysis of the muscles. Otherwise, injecting the drug to the same location can result in insufficient paralysis of the muscle.

The results revealed that the new treatment reduced pain in patients but also reduced levels of strength in their muscles. They also found that the treatment weakens the fingers, therefore reducing the patient's ability to extend them. Researchers said that more studies are required in order to figure out whether the new method would be effective in pain reduction after a period of 4 months.

Botox (the brand name for botulinum toxin), manufactured and distributed by Allergan, Inc., was first approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 20 years ago for the treatment of strabismus and blepharospasm, two eye muscle disorders, making it the first botulinum toxin type A product approved in the world. Since its first approval, the drug has been recognized by regulatory authorities all across the world as an effective treatment for 21 different indications in about eighty countries worldwide. Though primarily known for ironing out wrinkles and crow's feet, Botox injections have been also approved for the treatment of medical conditions, such as muscle contractions in the neck, excessive sweating and spasticity.

The new findings are detailed in the report published online on April 26 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Tags: Health