Intrathecal Baclofen vs. intramuscular Botox for CRPS-related dystonia

If you’re considering injectable therapy for CRPS-related dystonia, you have probably heard of Botox (which is commonly used in spine-injured people to help with spastic bladders and other muscular issues), and you may have tried oral baclofen, which has the systemic and cognitive effects of its class. You may not know that baclofen can be injected into the spinal cord (intrathecally), providing therapeutic effects below the level of injection.

Based on the studies found in Pub Med, baclofen is far more effective, but requires more vigilance, largely due to it’s invasiveness and the equipment issues of intrathecal injections.

Botox doesn’t seem to do anything consistently in CRPS, for either dystonia or pain, except perhaps for prolonging the effect of stellate ganglion blocks; its rate of complications is low.

Of course, it does work for some people, but that can be said of almost any Level 2 or Level 3 medication used for this condition. CRPS is highly individuated, and its treatment certainly has to be individualized. This is the one constant feature of CRPS management.

On the basis of overall results, I would expect to see a wider acceptance of a more generally effective agent like baclofen, over the popular but generally insipid Botox injections.

Dystonia, unlike pain, is specifically crippling, even in a mild case. It impairs function in the most basic life tasks, from walking to eating.


• Studied in CRPS since 2000.
• Results generally very good for dystonia, pain, or both. The best- designed study on dystonia showed excellent results.
• Doesn’t work for everyone (of course.)
• Dose and duration must be sufficient.
• Careful monitoring for complications.


Pub Med only has two relevant studies.
• Of these two studies, one says it’s useless for dystonia, one says it’s great for pain.
• One study for allodynia: it’s no good.
• One study for improving stellate ganglion block: it’s excellent.
I haven’t looked outside of pub med. I’d be interested to see more solid data about it. This seems pretty random.

These bullet points, plus accompanying tables showing the studies and results referenced here, are in the PDF below.