A promising alternative for pain, which common drugs are not effective, could be the neurotoxin botulinum toxin, which is known primarily as an anti-wrinkle agent.
GERMANY – Repeated injections of nerve agent under the skin decreased pain intensity significantly. Using this treatment, the degree of pain in patients who were already struggling for at least half a year from chronic pain, on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (maximum pain imaginable), after 24 weeks decreased from 6.5 to 4.6 points. Patients who had instead been treated with a saline solution of medium degree of pain decreased only slightly from 6.4 to 5.8 points.
This study was published in the journal The Lancet Neurology by an international research team involving neurologist at the University Hospital of Würzburg. Particularly patients with allodynia responded well to the botulinum toxin injections.
It is estimated that at least 2.6 million people in Germany suffer from neuropathic pain. According to Professor Claudia Sommer, senior consultant of the neurological clinic and policlinic at the University Hospital of Würzburg and co-author of the study, our treatment options are currently unsatisfactory. There are many patients who either do not tolerate standard medications for the symptomatic treatment of this pain or not should take drugs such as Tricyclic Antidepressant, Duloxetine, Gabapentin and pregabalin, or extended-release opioids. “For these patients we need urgently an effective alternative,” the doctor said.
However, it is too early in the clinical routine to use botulinum toxin for neuropathic pain. The therapy is currently approved and could not be imposed at the expense of the statutory health insurance. “The application should stay limited even after an eventual admission to special clinics and major neurological clinics”, says Professor Hans-Christoph Diener, spokesman for the German Neurological Society.