What is Botox?
Botox is a type of purified protein synthesized from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botox injection or Botulinum toxin injection is administered through a fine needle into the treatment area and works by blocking the action of certain chemicals that induce muscle contraction or spasm and relaxing the contracted muscles. It was originally introduced for the treatment of certain eye disorders. Currently, the use of Botox therapy has been expanded to include many other medical and cosmetic applications.
Uses of Botox
Botox is commonly used for the treatment of:
- Moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows
- Wrinkles around the corners of the eyes (crow’s feet)
- Facial wrinkles
- Wrinkles on the forehead
- Chronic migraines
- Lower limb spasticity
- Focal dystonia
- Excessive underarm sweating
- Ophthalmologic conditions such as drooping eyelids
- Urological conditions such as overactive bladder
Botox for Dystonia Treatment
Dystonia defines a group of movement disorders characterized by slow repetitive involuntary muscle spasms and contractions. Focal dystonia is a type of dystonia in which the movement disorder is localized to one part of the body. Focal dystonia may affect the eyelids (rapid blinking or closure), neck (contractions cause the head to twist or pull to one side), vocal cords (spasm affect voice), and arms (writer’s cramp). The two most common areas affected are the eyelids and the neck.
When Botox is administered into the muscles affected with dystonia, it works by blocking the neurotransmitter chemicals that signal the muscles to spasm and contract involuntarily. The muscle becomes weakened and relaxed, decreasing the symptoms of dystonia.
Botox for Migraine Headaches
A migraine is a type of headache characterized by severe throbbing pain on one side of the head accompanied by secondary symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. Other symptoms may include light-headedness and blurry vision. A migraine may be preceded by an aura, a neurological warning sign, which may occur 10 to 15 minutes before an attack. These include flashes of light, tingling sensations, or speech problems. Sometimes, you may have migraines without an aura. A migraine may last from a few hours to 3 days.
When Botox is administered for migraine headaches, doctors believe it works by blocking the neurotransmitter chemicals that carry pain signals to the brain. Botox functions as a roadblock in a pathway. It blocks the pain signals before they reach the nerve endings located around your neck and head.
Botox for Spasticity Treatment
Spasticity is a muscle control disorder that is defined by stiffness or tightness of the muscles and the inability to control those muscles. It may range from mild stiffness to painful spasms of the muscles. It may cause lower back pain and decreased range of movement around the joints, and can lead to contractures (shortening of muscles producing frozen or immobile joints) and bedsores due to immobility. Spasticity usually affects the legs and may be brought on by sudden movement or changes in position, very hot or cold weather, tight clothing, or infections.
When Botox is administered to the muscles affected by spasticity, it blocks the chemical signal between the nerves and muscles that causes muscle tightness or contraction. This provides considerable relief from symptoms of spasticity including muscle stiffness and pain.
Procedure for Botox Injection
Botox therapy is a simple office procedure. The area to be treated is cleansed thoroughly. A topical anesthetic cream is applied to reduce discomfort and the Botox toxin is injected with a fine needle directly into the muscle beneath the affected region. The muscle function weakens, eliminating part or all of its function. It is a painless procedure, though a slight stinging sensation may be felt. The entire procedure will usually be completed within 15-20 minutes and you can return to your routine activities almost immediately.
The effects of Botox will normally last for 4 to 6 months. Repeated Botox injections will be required thereafter as maintenance therapy. However, with continued use of Botox therapy, the effects of treatment may last longer. The Botox treatment is usually repeated every 3 to 6 months and can be continued indefinitely provided that you continue to have positive results and do not exhibit any serious negative reactions.
Benefits of Botox
The use of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraine, dystonia, and spasticity can provide the following benefits:
- Considerable improvement in gait pattern
- Improved range of motion and positioning
- Greater ease with stretching muscles
- Reduction in spasticity
- Reduction in the frequency of chronic migraine headaches
- Ability to target specifically affected muscles
- Improved overall quality of life
Risks and Complications
Botox therapy is a relatively safe procedure; however, as with any injection procedure, some risks and complications may occur, such as the following:
- Allergic reactions