FDA approved botulinum toxin treatment has been used to treat dystonia, essential tremor, and other movement disorders for more than 30 years. It is commonly associated with its application in the beauty industry, but its benefits go far past smoothing unwanted wrinkles. The toxin blocks acetylcholine the messenger chemical that orders muscle contraction on a cellular level. There are seven types of botulinum toxin, four are used to treat dystonia.
The toxin itself is a dangerous bacterial poison. It is purified and administered in tiny doses by medical professionals, usually at a local hospital. There is a limit to how much of the toxin can be injected into any one person during a single treatment, so it is recommended for patients with centralized dystonic symptoms, as opposed to full-body cases.
The reaction can take a week or longer to take full effect. Benefits are not permanent. As the chemical disperses in the affected area, symptoms return. Positive effects can last for three to four months or more. Most patients that have chosen this treatment visit a clinic every twelve weeks. Botulinum toxin therapy is not a cure for dystonia and provides significant relief for most patients.
It is often one of the first non-pharmaceutical options in treating dystonia. Although not an overly invasive treatment option, therapeutic injection therapy is a serious undertaking, one that should be made only with the guidance of proper medical professionals. Botulinum toxin treatments have been most effective in treating focal, segmental, spasmodic, cervical, oromandibular, and lingual dystonias. It has also helped relieve some symptoms of dystonia including Blepharospasm and writer’s cramp.
Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases at UF Health
Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center
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The medical information contained in this article is for general information only. It is not intended to provide instruction and you should not rely on this information to determine diagnosis, prognosis or a course of treatment. It is crucial that care and treatment decisions related to Dystonia and any other medical condition be made in consultation with a physician or other qualified medical professional.
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