Botox for Dystonia

Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by uncontrollable muscle contractions that cause repetitive motions or abnormal postures. The severity of dystonia ranges from affecting a single muscle, a group of muscles, or the entire body. Because of this, there can be a number of symptoms. Although the exact cause of dystonia is unknown, it is believed that it may originate in the basal ganglia region of the brain that is responsible for muscle contractions. In many cases, it is believed that a problem with or damage to the basal ganglia can result in dystonia. However, there are also cases where dystonia can be inherited from a parent, which is known as idiopathic or primary dystonia. 

Botox is a neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria that is commonly used to treat symptoms associated with dystonia. When it is injected into contracting muscles, the neurotoxin interrupts the signal that causes the nerves to stimulate muscle contraction. As a result, the muscle will be unable to contract and will relax. This stops or decreases repetitive motions and allows for more normal posture. 

Did You Know?

Although Botox is labeled as a “neurotoxin”, it cannot actually make you sick. This is because Botox is carefully manufactured so that it has therapeutic benefits. Additionally, it is used in extremely small doses that are unable to cause any type of illness. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Am I a candidate for treating dystonia with Botox?

You may be a candidate for treating dystonia with Botox if you are experiencing uncontrollable muscle contractions in one or more muscles. However, Botox may not be an ideal treatment for everyone, and people with additional nerve or muscle conditions, breathing-related problems, or who are on certain medications may be at an increased risk for side effects. Therefore, you will need to schedule a consultation at Premier Neurology to determine if you are an ideal candidate. 

What can I expect when having dystonia treated with Botox?

All Botox injections are performed in our office with a fine needle. When having dystonia treated with Botox, you can expect to receive injections approximately once every three months. The specific location of the injection will depend on the location of your symptoms and in some cases, more than one injection may be used. Your doctor may feel for muscle spasms or use an electromyography machine (EMG) to measure muscle activity in order to determine the best location for the injection. In most cases, the effects of Botox treatment will last up to three months, however it may take a few treatments before you will notice results. After your Botox injection, you will need to schedule a follow up appointment 4-6 weeks out. This follow up appointment will allow your neurologist to evaluate your progress to determine the best course of action moving forward. 

What can I expect after having a Botox injection?

After your Botox injection, you will be able to return to your usual activities. It usually takes a few days for the Botox to have an effect, however this can vary from patient to patient. Most patients will notice a significant difference about a week after the injection, however some patients may take up to a month to feel the full effect. 

Some patients may also experience pain or soreness at the injection site. This can be resolved with over the counter medications and applying ice packs to the area. In rare cases, you may also experience side effects such as temporary muscle weakness or infection of the injection site. 

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