Botox to Treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (cont.)

How Does the Botulinum Toxin Work?

Normally, the brain sends electrical messages to the muscles so that they can contract and move. This message is transmitted to the muscle by a substance called acetylcholine. Botulinum toxin works to block the release of acetylcholine; therefore the muscle doesn't receive the message to contract.

How Are Botulinum Toxin Treatments Given?

Botulinum toxin is given as an intramuscular injection (in the muscle). Your doctor will determine the muscle(s) in need of treatment.

If the muscles to be injected are small or difficult to reach, it may be necessary to send short electric impulses, or to record electric signals from the muscles, to ensure that the appropriate muscles are receiving the injected medication.

A very fine needle is used for the injection. Some people report minor and temporary discomfort from the injection. The medication does not sting or cause irritation after it has been injected.

You can expect the appointment to last from 1 to 2 hours.

The effects of the medication begin to appear from one to two weeks after the injection. The muscles injected should then relax.

What Are the Advantages of Botulinum Toxin?

The advantages of botulinum toxin include.

  • Improvement of discomfort related to spasticity symptoms.
  • In some cases, improved ability to use the affected part of the body.
  • The medication is effective for two to six months, depending on the individual.

What Are the Disadvantages of Botulinum Toxin?

The disadvantages of botulinum toxin include:

  • The benefit of botulinum toxin is limited to the injected muscles. Therefore, botulinum toxin may not be a good choice of treatment when many muscles are involved or when the spastic muscles are large.
  • The effect of the injections is temporary. Therefore, injections must be repeated over time to maintain the beneficial effects. Injections are not repeated more often than every 3 months to minimize the risk of developing antibodies to the botulinum toxin (see below).

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