With so many uses to benefit how we look and feel, Botox Cosmetic has steadily become the medical equivalent to a Swiss Army Knife. It can relax wrinkles, stop excessive sweating, and press pause on painful migraines. But did you know that the muscle-relaxing neurotoxin can also come in handy when dealing with the aches and pains that come along with stress?
When tension and stress build in the neck, our muscles may begin to feel tight or achy. Neck pain may also spread to the shoulders. “Tension in the trapezius muscle is quite common in people who work with their hands and basically anyone who sits in front of a computer,” explains Santa Monica, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. “Stress, of course, causes a generalized muscle tightening and creates a negative feedback loop.”
“This physical pain can then in turn create more anxiety which leads to even more muscular constriction, which further worsens the anxiety,” adds Chico, CA dermatologist Kafele T. Hodari, MD. This is where neurotoxin injections come in to, as Dr. Hodari says, “relieve this vicious cycle.”
By strategically placing neuromodulators into the muscles of the neck, shoulder and even the scalp, you can alleviate the muscular tension, constriction, and pain. “Injecting in the trapezius muscles will help with back and neck pain due to tight muscles,” says New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD. “It also has the added benefit of helping to straighten your posture.”
Dr. Hodari explains that the therapeutic use of neurotoxin in the shoulders can lead to an improved posture due to the elimination of stress-induced pain or anxiety. “As we experience pain, we often adjust the way we stand, move, or otherwise navigate the world,” he says. “This compensation, while meant to alleviate pain, can actually make things worse, as we tend to excessively rely on certain muscle groups over others.”
When asked about possible side effects, like impaired use of the muscle, the experts we spoke to said this treatment came with minimal risks. “The benefits are the improvement of muscle tightness and stress reduction and the risks are really minimal,” notes Dr. Shamban. “There are no published guidelines about dosage, so the main risk is that you have to return to get a second dose!”