Today, Botox® is most commonly known as a cosmetic treatment for fine lines and wrinkles caused by muscle movement, but it was first approved in 1989 for medical applications, specifically strabismus of the eye and eyelid twitching, also known as blepharospasm. In fact, today it’s used to treat more medical conditions than ever.
At Memphis Neurology, our team of expert neurologists takes advantage of Botox’s unique abilities to treat a wide variety of nerve-related disorders for our patients in Southaven, Mississippi, and Germantown, Tennessee, including muscle spasms, cervical dystonia, and chronic migraine. Here’s what you need to know about how Botox goes beyond beauty and how it may help you.
Botox (onabotulinumtoxin A) was the first in a line of injectable neurotoxins used to temporarily paralyze muscles. It’s found in nature in the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and it’s the same neurotoxin that causes a form of food poisoning (botulism).
However, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), Botox is safe and causes few side effects when highly diluted and administered by a trained professional, such as our doctors at Memphis Neurology.
Botox works by temporarily preventing nerves from signaling muscles to contract. Musculoskeletal nerves release acetylcholine (ACh), a chemical messenger, at the junction where they connect to muscle cells. Normally, ACh released at the junction attaches to the muscle cells and causes them to contract.
However, Botox and related neurotoxins paralyze the nerves and prevent them from releasing ACh; with no signal received, the muscles relax.
The effects of a Botox treatment generally last 3-4 months, after which time you can repeat the treatment.
Botox is used to treat a variety of medical problems, from upper limb spasticity to crossed eyes to overactive bladder to severe underarm sweating, or hyperhidrosis. At Memphis Neurology, we often use it for three conditions.
Certain neurological conditions, like cerebral palsy and blepharospasm, cause involuntary muscle spasms. By injecting Botox into the nerves responsible for the contractions, the muscles temporarily relax, giving symptom relief.
Dystonia is a group of movement disorders where muscles in a particular body part contract uncontrollably, resulting in repetitive movements. Cervical dystonia is the most common type. It affects the neck, causing it to move forcefully forward and backward and twist painfully to the side. Botox blocks the signals that cause these movements.
Migraine is not a headache. It’s a neurological condition in which attacks cause a variety of disabling symptoms like light, sound, and odor sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, and violent, throbbing pain that can last up to 72 hours. Chronic migraine causes symptoms for more than four hours at a time, 15 or more days in a month. Botox injections are used as a preventive treatment for the chronic form of the condition, as they relax some of the muscles that contribute to migraine attack pain.
To learn more about how Botox goes beyond the cosmetic industry, and to find out if you’re a good candidate for treatment, give Memphis Neurology a call at either location to set up an evaluation with one of our neurologists, or book your appointment online.