Understanding Botox® for Non-Cosmetic Uses

Understanding Botox® for Non-Cosmetic Uses

Botox® has been around for decades and has kept its ranking as the top nonsurgical cosmetic treatment as long as it’s been on the market. But this game-changing aesthetic wonder got its start as a medical treatment, and doctors still use it to address a range of health conditions.

Dr. Stanley Mathew was an early adopter of Botox at the American Rehabilitation Center. Our patients throughout Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Anamosa, Iowa, reap the benefits of Dr. Mathew’s expertise and find much-needed relief from multiple issues. 

Botox’s medical roots

Botox is best known for its cosmetic uses, which is ironic considering its roots. This neurotoxin dates back to the 19th century, when a Belgian doctor first identified it as the culprit behind food poisoning, also known as botulism. 

In the 1950s, researchers discovered Botox’s ability to calm muscle spasms, and by the 1970s, they used it to treat strabismus (crossed eyes) and blepharospasm (involuntary eyelid spasms). In the 1980s, the FDA approved Botox to treat both of these conditions.

A decade later, scientists discovered that small doses of the toxin could temporarily erase forehead wrinkles; the rest is history.

Before Botox smoothed facial wrinkles and banished laugh lines, it was helping physicians treat neuromuscular conditions and still does today. Here’s a look at some of Botox’s many medical applications.

Migraine disease

Botox has been a game-changer for folks with chronic migraine. This FDA-approved application of Botox works by blocking the release of certain nerve signaling molecules that cause pain, including the neurotransmitter glutamate.

Muscle spasms

Spasticity causes muscle stiffness related to central nervous system damage, common in folks with multiple sclerosis, cerebral aneurysms, brain and spinal cord trauma, tumors, or hypoxia (lack of oxygen). 

If you have spasticity, besides muscle stiffness, you might also have weakness, pain, loss of feeling, and poor coordination.

Botox excels at treating spasticity associated with neurological conditions. When Dr. Mathew injects it, Botox blocks the release of acetylcholine, a chemical that causes muscle contractions. This helps relax the muscles and reduce stiffness or involuntary movements.


The FDA has also approved Botox as a treatment for dystonia, another neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions, abnormal postures, or repetitive movements. It can affect one or multiple body parts, including your neck, face, hands, arms, and legs.

Botox injections deliver the toxin in small amounts to your affected muscles, where it blocks the release of acetylcholine, stopping the contraction in the same way it does for spasticity. The resulting muscle relaxation is temporary; it’s not a cure.

Excessive sweating

This one might surprise you — Botox treats excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. Botox injected into the affected area, such as the underarms or hands, blocks the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. This can significantly affect your quality of life by eliminating the discomfort and embarrassment of excessive sweating.

Overactive bladder

If you have an overactive bladder — meaning your bladder muscles contract involuntarily and create the urge to urinate frequently — Botox can help by relaxing these muscles.

Eye disorders

The original Botox treatments for eye disorders, including strabismus and blepharospasm, are still going strong. An injection of Botox into the muscles around your eyes reduces the spasms and improves vision.

Learn more about Botox’s medical applications and which treatments Dr. Mathew uses. Call any of our three locations or book online

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