Have you ever heard of BOTOX for painful fingers? I have something called Raynaud phenomenon from a case of frostbite years ago. The special creams I apply to my hands help but not nearly enough to allow me to go out and enjoy a walk on a wintery day. I'm wondering if there's anything to the report I heard about BOTOX being the "new miracle cure" for this problem.
BOTOX (BOTOX stands for botulinum neurotoxin) has been used as an off-label way to treat Raynaud phenomenon. Off label means the drug is used for something other than what it was intended for. BOTOX as a treatment for Raynaud phenomenon is still considered experimental. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of BOTOX for this condition. For those who do not know, the condition we refer to as Raynaud phenomenon occurs when the small blood vessels of the hands tighten up and close off. The blood supply to the fingers gets cut off. These spasms come and go in response to cold temperature or strong emotion. Patients with Raynaud phenomenon commonly suffer from pain and loss of function. Sometimes they can't even reach inside a refrigerator without gloves to protect their fingers. The loss of blood to the fingertips can cause ulcers to form. Patients who depend on their hands for work may be forced to change jobs. Treatment for this condition varies from patient-to-patient. Sometimes physical therapy, acupuncture, and medications help. Creams applied to the skin to open the blood vessels can be used. Patients with this problem are encouraged to avoid cold conditions and stop using tobacco products. In cases that don't respond to these methods, surgery may be needed. Cutting the nerve to the arteries that bring blood to the area may be an option. The outermost layer of the blood vessel is stripped away. This works because it removes the nerve control that is causing the arteries to go into spasm. This is the treatment recommended most often for patients with Raynaud and ulcers that don't heal. The result can be relief from pain and freedom from having to wear gloves. Now BOTOX injections might be a less invasive and more effective treatment than surgery that disrupts blood vessels. It still works by turning off pain messages sent along tiny nerves in the hands but without having to cut the blood vessels or nerves directly. There aren't large studies available yet. But based on the results of smaller studies, the treatment appears effective. That's why it's used for patients who have not responded well to other conservative measures. The long-term effects of BOTOX injections for Raynaud phenomenon have not been investigated or reported yet either.