Botox....for Neck Pain.....!!??

I must admit, I have held off on botox for a VERY long time. Yes, I recall that Samantha was more excited about Botox than Carrie's decision to marry Big, but honestly, I just thought it was for Instagram girls looking for super plump lips and "older" people. How old? Well, just "older" than me.

With that being said, I have also been open enough to recognize that Botox has become increasingly mainstream, with many people using it as one of their secret weapons to achieve very impactful results with little time and effort. For that reason, I've always encouraged my husband to offer such services because I am always an advocate for increasing access to safe, quality healthcare, regardless of the reason or cosmetic nature, especially for something like botox, where some are inclined to sacrifice so many standards, doing things like having "a friend" administer botox at a "party" in someone's garage without factoring the likelihood of product contamination, and utterly oblivious to the precise mixing ratios and efficacy protocols for the product.

Therefore, when he decided to get the final credentials needed to offer in the office, I decided to attend the course with him and the clinical team. As the lady who was once a high-schooler on an advanced track in biology with absolute love for Chemistry, I must admit that I was totally smitten to see the science and precision of using botox to solve a multitude of issues, both cosmetic and medically induced.

To get the ball rolling, our team attended the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) certification course. Each day was jam-packed with textbook and case study content, followed by hands-on application. The first day was dermal fillers, the second botox, and the third TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), and the material just seemed to get "gooder and gooder!" Initially, I wanted to attend to ensure I understood these procedures well enough to provide patient education materials for our team to explain procedures in layperson's terms for our patients. However, I seemed to become a convert, walking away as an evangelist espousing my newfound knowledge of three fundamental principles:

  1. Dermal Fillers are for smoothing lines and wrinkles that have already appeared
  2. Botox is used to relax muscles, which can preemptively stop the formation of lines and wrinkles, as well as address pain associated with long-term muscle tension
  3. TMJ Care helps with using botox to release tension in muscles, a glorious opportunity for those of us who clench our teeth, grind our teeth at night, and hold tension in our neck and upper back (whether stress-induced or just from sitting at a desk too many hours a day) And honestly, this is where the magic began for me.

During the first round of trying things out, Dr. Washington performed an examination to find my pain and trigger points, and I was shocked to realize that when he pressed the area of my jaws near my ears, it really did hurt quite a bit. I guess I had become so accustomed to feeling the pain that I didn't notice it beyond occasionally feeling headaches or slight discomfort while chewing. To address this, he used about 40 units of botox distributed between my lower jaw areas and the temple muscles proceeding backward from my forehead.  

He told me to expect to feel a bit of relief within three days or so, but honestly, I felt like I was already benefitting the same day as I somehow felt lighter as my face began to relax naturally. So much so that I went back to him a month later to discuss what options might be available for all the tension I seemed to carry in my upper back.  

This inquiry followed a session he did in-office to train the team on myofascial pain and trigger point therapy where it was noted how dental hygienists are constantly adding tension to their upper back from bending over patients each day to help recover and maintain the health of their gums while they calmly relaxed in laid back posture having their teeth cleaned.

As someone who has always had to endure the discomfort of deep tissue massages to try to help with all the knots in my upper back, I was starting to get a bit discouraged because, after years of targeted working out, stretching, and yoga, I couldn't seem to stop forming and holding these painful places on my back. Not even when adding cupping to my massages which was also not a zen-filled experience of bliss and lilies.

To help with this, Dr. Washington again assessed my knots and related trigger points to devise a plan. And very similar to before, he applied a freezing numbing spray to the treatment areas, and I didn't feel much of anything. I was also glad that even though the knots were a bit tougher to address as the application entails "breaking up" the knots instead of simply applying the botox, the entire procedure was done in less than five minutes.  

Being the young science nerd I was long ago, I still hold dear the concepts of developing a hypothesis (an educated guess) and measuring results, so I was again relieved to note that within days I have two significant sets of tangible results: my posture improved and my range of motion increased. For this second one, no ruler is required. If you also suffer from back, shoulder, and neck pain, try a shoulder-opening pose in yoga such as Bow or Eagle! For me, this was my wake-up call long ago that I was in a bit worse shape than I wanted to imagine, but the pose is SO awesome when you're limber enough to enjoy the stretch.

Then, to add icing to the cake, more than two weeks after the treatment, I was ecstatic to realize that the knots were either gone or much more minor, AND, when receiving a massage, for the first time in I can't remember how long, I could forgo the need for painful deep tissue work and enjoy a regular massage. So much so that my therapist happily noted this change in affairs without any prompting from me to let her know about the treatment I received.  

Primarily for these treatment-related reasons, I have become a true believer in botox's power as I have witnessed and experienced the first-hand ability to add to your feeling of wellness by incorporating these practices into a customized and monitored routine.  

Who knows? I may even bite the bullet and try some cosmetic treatments since I learned in the course that the earlier you strategically treat specific areas of the face, the less likely you are to develop long-term creases in the skin that lead to permanent lines and wrinkles. And if you can't tell already, I am ALL about prevention and the early establishment of healthy routines. None of us can "beat" aging, but I certainly would rather understand and do as much as I can now to prevent being dependent upon an endless list of medications and conditions to manage for the rest of my life.

But don't worry; I won't leave you hanging, as I'll be sure to share whatever I discover next.

Till next time…..

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