Management of spasticity associated pain with botulinum toxin A

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2000 Jul;20(1):44-9. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(00)00146-9.


Lesions of the central nervous system often result in an upper motor neuron syndrome including spasticity, paresis with pyramidal signs, and painful spasms. Pharmacological treatment with oral antispasticity drugs is frequently associated with systemic side effects which limit their clinical use. Botulinum Toxin A (BtxA) injected in spastic muscles has been shown to be effective in reducing muscle tone, but only few studies have reported pain relief as additional benefit. Therefore, we investigated the effects of local BtxA injections in 60 patients with acute (< 12 months) and chronic spasticity and pain in a prospective multicenter study. Target muscles for BtxA were selected on the basis of clinical examination. Intramuscular BtxA injections were placed in muscles exhibiting increased muscle tone in combination with pain during passive joint movement. Patients received a mean total dose of 165.7 +/- 108.2 [30-400] units BOTOX((R)) per treatment session in a mean 3.4 +/- 1.5 muscles. Baseline and follow-up (mean 5.9 weeks) measures included a patient self-assessment of pain and function on a five-level scale, a physician's evaluation of function, and a global rating of response to BtxA. Fifty-four of sixty patients experienced improvement in pain without subjective functional improvement. The effects were comparable in acute (n = 17) and chronic (n = 43) spasticity. Physician's assessment of gain in function increased significantly (p < 0.05) only in patients with chronic spasticity. No serious adverse event was observed. Mild reversible side effects (local pain, hematoma, edema, mild weakness) were observed in four patients. In conclusion, we found that intramuscular BtxA injections are a potent, well-tolerated treatment modality to significantly reduce spasticity-related local pain. This problem may be a main indication, especially in patients with poor response or intolerable side effects to oral medication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / adverse effects
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / complications*
  • Neuromuscular Agents / adverse effects
  • Neuromuscular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prospective Studies


  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A