Treatment of refractory pain with botulinum toxins--an evidence-based review.
To provide updated information on the role of botulinum toxins in the treatment of refractory pain based on prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. DESIGN OF THE REVIEW: Class I and class II articles were searched online through PubMed (1966 to the end of January 2011) and OvidSP including ahead-of-print manuscripts. Level A evidence (two or more class I studies-established efficacy): pain of cervical dystonia, chronic migraine, and chronic lateral epicondylitis. Level B evidence (one class I or two class II studies-probably effective and recommended): post-herpetic neuralgia, post-traumatic neuralgia, pain of plantar fasciitis, piriformis syndrome, and pain in total knee arthroplasty. Level C evidence (one class II study-possibly effective, may be used at discretion of clinician): allodynia of diabetic neuropathy, chronic low back pain, painful knee osteoarthritis, anterior knee pain with vastus lateralis imbalance, pelvic pain, post-operative pain in children with cerebral palsy after adductor hip release surgery, post-operative pain after mastectomy, and sphincter spasms and pain after hemorrhoidectomy. Level U evidence (efficacy not proven due to diverse class I and II results): myofascial pain syndrome and chronic daily headaches. Studies in episodic migraine and tension headaches have shown treatment failure (level A-negative). Evidence-based data indicate that administration of botulinum toxin in several human conditions can alleviate refractory pain. The problems with some study designs and toxin dosage are critically reviewed. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.