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UR Medicine / Neurology / Clinical Services / Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Clinic

Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Clinic

Botulinum toxin therapy has been used to treat many neurologic disorders, including:

  • Blinking or twitching of the muscles on one side of the face
  • Dystonias
  • Spasticity from strokes, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries
  • Pathologically abnormal sweating, and drooling
  • Headache and other painful conditions

The Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Unit does not use botulinum toxin for cosmetic purposes.

Botulinum toxin is a potent neurotoxin produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. When purified and delivered exactly where needed, it becomes a powerful therapeutic agent. There are seven known types of C. botulinum toxin, but only types A (Botox®) and B (Myobloc®) are used as medical treatments.

The goal of the therapy is to reduce muscle spasm and pain, and restore more useful function. A very small dose of botulinum toxin is injected into a muscle to block some of the messages that are sent from the nerves to the muscles, reducing spasms.

Neurons generate new nerve endings that reactivate the muscle contracture, so improvement is time limited, and treatment is usually repeated every 3 to 4 months. Physical or occupational therapy occasionally helps restore normal muscle function.

More information on Botulinum Toxin (Botox)

Side Effects of Botulinum Toxin Therapy

Botulinum toxin therapy is a safe and effective treatment when given in appropriate amounts by a qualified neurologist. Some patients experience temporary weakness in the group of muscles being treated, or those nearby. For example, ptosis (drooping eyelid) can develop after treating blepharospasm. Flu-like symptoms develop in some patients, but rarely. Patients with certain other neuromuscular diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or myasthenia gravis, may not be appropriate candidates for botulinum toxin therapy. Infrequently, some patients develop antibodies to the medication over time, rendering the treatment ineffective.