Botox treatment for muscle spasticity… not wrinkles!
When most of us hear about “Botox” (Botulinum Toxin), we picture a needle poking away at wrinkles. What you may not know is that Botox is also used as a treatment for muscle spasticity in those with brain and spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.
Spasticity is the continued “spasm” or contraction of certain muscles that may interfere with the ability to function independently. Think of it like this – if the brain isn’t talking to the muscles, they don’t know what to do, so they freeze in an abnormal position. Over time, the stiff and tight muscles affect a person’s movement and speech. This becomes painful, affects posture and makes it difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, such as bathing, housework and something as simple as eating a meal.
Usually before Botox is given as a treatment, other therapies are attempted. Patients with spasticity will meet with a rehabilitation physician, or physiatrist, to determine the best course of treatment. Physiatrists are highly-trained in treating spasticity and associated conditions. Physiatrists may recommend physical therapy and medication, such as baclofen, tizanidine, valium, or dantrolene.
If spasticity is still present in the muscles after initial treatment, Botox can be used in a procedure called “chemodenervation”. Botox works by paralyzing muscles that are overactive. These injections are performed by a qualified physician under electromyogram or ultrasound guidance to ensure that the injections are going into the spastic muscle.
After Botox injections, it will take a week or two to take full effect. At the two week mark, an aggressive stretching and range of motion program with a physical therapist is done to stretch out the muscle. In some severe cases, patients may need to wear braces or casts to keep a constant stretch on the muscles that are affected. Botox can be injected at three month intervals to keep those with spasticity more comfortable and independent.
The goal of treatment with Botox and other spasticity treatments is to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve posture
- Prevent skin breakdown and poor hygiene
- Improve function and quality of life
For more information on Botox treatment for muscle spasticity, contact Mercy Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at (515) 358- 0150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.