By Dr. Aveg Bhandari, Neurology
The role of Botulinum Toxin or Botox in the field of neurology has recently been recognized by doctors across the world. The medical procedure is now being used to treat specific muscular conditions.
What is Botox?
Botox is a neurotoxin, a type of poison produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which when consumed, causes fatal reactions by blocking the nerve signals and paralyzing the muscles. However, despite the risk, Botox has proven to be an effective therapeutic protein. When administered in small concentrations, Botulinum toxin blocks the release of a neurotransmitter, known as acetylcholine, which prevents muscle cell contraction. This eases abnormal contraction of the muscles, allowing them to become less stiff.
Multiple shots of Botox around the neck and head once every 12 weeks can reduce or prevent chronic headaches, particularly migraine. You may need around 30-40 shots in all, an equal number on each side of the head. If the headache is confined to one spot, you may need a couple of shots more in that part. The results are noticeable 2-3weeks following the treatment.
This refers to a rare condition where the neck muscles contract, causing the head to twist on one side. Injecting Botulinum toxin into the affected muscles helps ease the symptoms of the condition.
• Writer’s Cramp
A neurological disorder, Writer’s cramp affects the movement of your fingers, forearms or hands. It is usually caused due to poor pen hold or writing posture, and overuse of the hand etc. The resulting muscle strain can cause you to press down on the paper too hard, leading to pain and spasm. Botox injected into the targeted muscles can help ease the condition, especially when the fingers or the wrist has unusual postures.
• Blepharospasm and Hemifacial Spasm
Both conditions are caused due to muscle contractions. Blepharospasm refers to an involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles, while hemifacial spasm involves the muscles surrounding the eyelid as well as your mouth. Small amounts of Botulinum toxin are injected into the eye muscles and the facial muscles to relieve spasm.
• Post-stroke Spasticity
A stroke can cause an abnormal increase in the muscle tone, leading to spasticity. One or a group of muscles may be involved in the contractions. Some people may have mild stiffness in the muscles, while for others the condition could be severe. Rather than turning to oral medications, injected medications, like Botox target the affected muscle specifically, thus reducing spasticity.
• Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder, which affects the posture or movement and muscle coordination. Botulinum toxin injection is used to treat dystonia and spasticity to ease muscle stiffness and overactivity in adults and children with cerebral palsy.
The popularity of Botox continues to increase due to its widespread usage in neurology and the positive outcomes. However, the treatment involves its own risks and complications. Therefore, consult a specialist and ensure that you get the Botox done at a renowned clinic only.