Botulinum toxin (popularly known as BOTOX®) has long been used to treat wrinkles, but this versatile neurotoxin has many other medical uses. For example, here at Gundersen Health System it is used to:
- treat chronic migraine syndrome
- reduce muscle spasms and tremors
- treat muscle spasms around the eyes and face
- inhibit sweat glands in people with profuse armpit sweat
- reduce muscle spasms that cause urinary incontinence
- control drooling due to stroke, brain injury or head/neck cancer
Site-specific injections of purified botulinum toxin offer non-invasive, effective treatments for many conditions. The injections are generally well tolerated with few side effects or interaction with other medications.
Expertise in the functional anatomy of the affected muscles is critical for anyone who gives botulinum toxin injections. Doctors at Gundersen not only offer this expertise, they are also well versed in the potency, dosing and best uses for various types of botulinum toxins including BOTOX®, Dysport®, Myobloc® and Xeomin®.
How botulinum toxin works to relax muscles
Botulinum toxin is injected directly into the muscle. In many cases, the doctor will use electromyography (EMG) imaging to help pinpoint the effected muscles. The botulinum toxin blocks impulses to the muscles in the treated area, reducing or stopping muscle spasms.
Before any injections are given, a thorough medical work-up is needed to make sure it is the best medical treatment for your specific problems. The dose, number of injections, injection site and frequency will be determined by your condition and your response to therapy.
Patients generally see improvement within a few days to two weeks. The effects typically last up to three months and occasionally longer. Often one injection will be effective in treating symptoms replacing oral medications taken several times per day. While botulinum toxin does not cure any medical condition, it does help control symptoms—and brings relief for patients—for about three to six months. Injections should be repeated as recommended by your doctor based on your condition and response.