Botox has been investigated as a potential treatment for nocturnal calf cramps.
Nocturnal calf cramps are characterized as sudden, painful contractions of the calf muscles, typically experienced by patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. These conditions can significantly reduce the quality of sleep and as a result, impact on patients’ quality of life. Nocturnal night cramps have proved difficult to treat.
Since Botox interferes with nerve signaling, resulting in the relaxation of muscles, a recent clinical trial investigated whether botox injections for nocturnal calf cramps could be a beneficial treatment in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.
The patients were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. Both groups were assigned to receive ‘conservative treatment’ (exercise, analgesics, injection therapy, and physical therapy). In addition to conservative therapy, one group received gabapentin, while the second group was treated with Botox injections.
The study reported significant reductions in leg pain intensity, and both the intensity and frequency of nocturnal night cramps. These effects were noted at two weeks, one month, and three months following treatment. The study also found that while several patients reported side effects with the gabapentin treatment (dizziness, drowsiness, peripheral edema), no serious side effects were reported by patients receiving Botox injections for nocturnal calf cramps. Twenty percent of patients reported mild to moderate pain at the site of injection.
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD
Park SJ, Yoon KB, Yoon DM, Kim SH, Botulinum toxin treatment for nocturnal calf cramps in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis: A randomized clinical trial, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.01.017.
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