This health video shows the versatility of Botox by using in to help foot wounds.
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Jennifer Mathews: Each year foot ulcers like these leads to more than 82,000 amputations. There are devastating complication of diabetes. Dr. Jeffrey Johnson: Every time you have an ulcer, this is just one more opportunity to develop a limb-threatening infection that might require an amputation. Jennifer Mathews: Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis say, healing the ulcers is tough, but keeping them healed is tougher. Dr. Jeffrey Johnson: The problem is the recurrence rate is very high. Within the first month after healing these ulcers, the recurrence rate can be 60% or 80% of patients will re-ulcerate during that time. Jennifer Mathews: Now, researchers are turning to Botox. A poison that's commonly used to treat wrinkles. Mary Hastings is leading the study. Mary Hastings: And more evenly distributed. Jennifer Mathews: Wounds are most common on the ball of the foot, and the pressure on wounds is highest when a person walks. That's where Botox comes in. Mary Hastings: What the botulism will do is weaken the muscle that pushes you forward during walking, and so then you can't develop high pressures under the front of your foot. Jennifer Mathews: Allowing time for the ulcer to heal. In a new study, doctors will inject Botox in six different places in the calf muscle, then they will cast it. They know the Botox will weaken the muscle, and they hope that's enough to keep the wounds healed. Mary Hastings: The more time you spend without a sore on the bottom of the foot, the less chance you have for an infection that will develop into the potential for a need for an amputation. Jennifer Mathews: The study has already started enrolling patients. And for the more than 18 million diabetics in the U.S., that's encouraging news. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.