Botox® is a household name for its cosmetic treatment of lines and wrinkles on the face. While it may be best known for its aesthetic uses, Botox has been used as a medication for certain muscle and nerve conditions for decades. At DOCS Health in Los Angeles, we offer a variety of treatments using Botox injections to offer relief to our patients.
What Is Botox?
The main ingredient in Botox is botulinum toxin A (OnabotulinumtoxinA), which is a neurotoxin that is produced by C. Botulinum, the bacterium that is known to cause botulism. The bacterium was discovered in the 1890s and it was heavily researched for decades by military and medical scientists. There are multiple toxins produced by the bacterium, but the botulinum toxin A has been the most useful strain identified.
Botulinum toxin A is a neuromodulator that affects nerve communication with the muscles. It has a chemical reaction that interrupts nerve signals that cause muscles to move or contract. Botox is a purified form of this neurotoxin that can be injected into targeted muscle to stop nerve signals that stimulate contractions. This can stop the formation of dynamic lines and wrinkles for cosmetic benefits, but it has many other medical uses. It is very safe and effective in small doses and FDA-approved for many different treatments.
Allergan acquired the product OnabotulinumtoxinA or BTX-A in the 1980s and changed the name to Botox. Botox injections were first FDA-approved for eye muscle spasms in 1989, which was followed by more research and FDA approvals over the last three decades.
Botox for Migraines
In 2010, the FDA approved Botox injections for chronic migraine treatment after many studies showed safe and positive results. Patients with chronic headaches or migraines can experience fewer episodes – on average, patients can expect to see a 50% reduction in their chronic headaches or migraines.
Botulinum toxin A is believed to help reduce migraines by stopping certain muscle contractions that trigger pain signals. Botox injections can be performed in about 15-20 minutes and may take a few weeks to begin noticing the effects. Treatment can be repeated a few times a year to continue the suppression of migraine episodes.
Botox Injections for Limb Spasticity
Patients with arm or leg spasticity from stroke, MS, TBI, cerebral palsy or other conditions may receive relief with Botox injections. The neuromodulator effects of Botox can relax spastic muscles for pain and functional relief. The FDA approved Botox treatment for upper limb spasticity in 2010 and lower limb spasticity in 2016. Like other Botox treatments, the injections only require a short office visit and there is no downtime or recovery needed after the treatment.
Cervical Dystonia Treatment with Botox
Cervical dystonia, or spasmatic torticollis, involves neck muscle spasms that can alter the position of the neck and head. Botox injections are one of the few non-invasive treatments available for spasmatic torticollis. Treatment for cervical dystonia with Botox was FDA approved in 1999. The injections can target the muscles that contract and cause neck pain and distortion.
Botox injections for spasmatic torticollis can be performed in an office visit, usually taking less than a half an hour. The effects of Botox can require a few weeks to occur, and the toxin dissipates in the body over 3-4 months. Patients with cervical dystonia can receive additional Botox treatments to maintain the relief from their neck muscle spasms.
Botox is a safe and effective treatment for many different medical conditions. Like most medications, there are possible side effects, but serious complications are very rare. If you are interested in Botox injections for migraines, cervical dystonia or limb spasticity, contact our team at DOCS Health in Los Angeles, CA to schedule an appointment.