Botox Injections for Pain | MedStar Health
Botox injection being prepared with syringe

Botox injections are a non-surgical treatment that alleviates pain by relaxing the muscles. While it is more commonly known for its use in cosmetic treatments, Botox is also an important tool in pain management.

Botox injections make therapeutic use of the botulinum toxin type A, a toxin produced by a bacterium called clostridium botulinum. Small amounts of the toxin, when diluted, can be safely injected into muscles to relieve pain.

Botox works by blocking certain nerve signals that control muscle activity and can be used to treat uncontrolled muscle contractions and to relax chronically contracted muscles.

Why this procedure is performed

Botox injections are used to treat pain associated with the muscles. This treatment can be administered in a particular area, directly targeting the muscles involved.

Used to treat pain conditions like:

  • Chronic neck pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain
  • Migraines
  • Tension headaches

What to expect during the procedure?

Before the procedure, the pain specialist numbs the skin where the injections will be administered, using a local anesthesia like:

  • Topical anesthesia
  • Vibration anesthesia
  • Ice

A thin needle is then used to inject Botox into the targeted muscles.

Risks associated with Botox injections

The injections are always administered under the care of a doctor in order to reduce the risk of side effects. While this is a safe procedure, as with any treatment, there is a small risk of complications.

Risks associated with Botox injections may include:

  • Allergic reaction to the Botox substance
  • Bruising around the area of the injection
  • Swelling and/or tenderness at the injection site


It is a local treatment, meaning that the injection is administered directly into the area of pain. Because of this, patients are able to avoid side effects associated with systemic treatments, like the fatigue associated with oral pain medications.

How to prepare for the injections?

Before making an appointment for the procedure, it’s important that patients tell the pain specialist about any Botox injections that have been performed in the previous 4 months, as well as any medications he/she is currently taking.

The pain specialist may instruct patients to pause certain medications, like blood thinners, for a few days before the treatment to avoid side effects like bruising.

Patients may also be asked to refrain from drinking alcohol for a few days or even up to 2 weeks before the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding at the injection site.


There is no recovery time associated with Botox injections, and patients can go home immediately following the procedure.

After getting the injections, it’s important to avoid massaging or rubbing the area for at least 24 hours to ensure that the injected substance does not spread to unwanted areas.

Most individuals typically experience pain relief a few days after the procedure that can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Pain relief is not permanent, however, and repeated injections are necessary to experience longer-term effects.

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MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Medical Center at Lafayette Centre

1133 21st St., NW
Building 2
Washington, DC, 20036

MedStar Health: Medical Center at Brandywine

13950 Brandywine Rd.
Brandywine, MD 20613