Evidence for the use of botulinum toxin in the chronic pain setting--a review of the literature

Pain Pract. 2008 Jul-Aug;8(4):269-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2008.00202.x. Epub 2008 May 23.


A significant proportion of chronic pain is of musculoskeletal origin. Botulinum toxin (BTX) has been successfully used in the treatment of spasmodic torticollis, limb dystonia, and spasticity. Investigators have, thus, become interested in its potential use in treating many chronic pain conditions. Practitioners have used BTX, outside the product license, in the treatment of refractory myofascial pain syndrome and neck and low back pain (LBP). This article reviews the current evidence relating to chronic pain practice. There is evidence supporting the use of both BTX type A and type B in the treatment of cervical dystonias. The weight of evidence is in favor of BTX type A as a treatment in: pelvic pain, plantar fasciitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction associated facial pain, chronic LBP, carpal tunnel syndrome, joint pain, and in complex regional pain syndrome and selected neuropathic pain syndromes. The weight of evidence is also in favor of BTX type A and type B in piriformis syndrome. There is conflicting evidence relating to the use of BTX in the treatment whiplash, myofascial pain, and myogenous jaw pain. It does appear that BTX is useful in selected patients, and its duration of action may exceed that of conventional treatments. This seems a promising treatment that must be further evaluated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Botulinum Toxins / pharmacology
  • Botulinum Toxins / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / pathology
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain Measurement / methods


  • Botulinum Toxins