Botox is best known for its uses to treat wrinkles. But did you know that Botox is also used to treat muscle spasticity.
What is spasticity?
Spasticity is a condition where a muscle or a group of muscles is constantly or continuously contracted. Muscle spasticity can lead to stiffness or tightness of the muscle, making it hard to use that muscle for normal activities. Spasticity can also lead to pain and tightness in muscles and joints, which makes it difficult to do things like walk or pick up objects. Spasticity affects over 12 million people worldwide. It can be caused by a number of conditions including multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, trauma to the brain or spina cord, other forms of brain damage, stroke, infections, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyelotrophy lateral sclerosis or ALS). There are different treatment options for people with spasticity including physical and occupational therapy, oral medications, surgery, and Botox.
How does Botox work to treat spasticity?
Botox is a purified protein that works by relaxing muscles. On the face there are a variety of muscles you use to make facial expressions. Over time and with repetitive use the pressure on the skin leads to the formation of wrinkles. When Botox is used to relax these muscles, the wrinkles soften or disappear entirely. Botox works the same way for muscles in the rest of the body when used to treat spasticity. Specifically, Botox prevents your nerves from telling your muscles to contract. The great thing about Botox, unlike other treatments for spasticity, is that you only need one treatment every three months and there is no recovery like there is for surgery. With physical therapy multiple sessions are required weekly or more than once a week and oral medications need to be taken every day.
When will I notice improvement in spasticity after a Botox treatment?
You will notice improvement in your spasticity in a few days after your Botox treatment and most people enjoy their results for three to four months. At that point you can get a maintenance Botox treatment. Sometimes a higher dose of Botox is needed and you may need a Botox treatment earlier. And in some people, the results from a Botox treatment can last longer than six months. For some people it make take multiple Botox treatments to notice an improvement in their spasticity.