The Many Uses of Botox for MS Care

The Many Uses of Botox for MS Care
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Engaging Thoughts

There are many things that confuse me, particularly in the medical area. Perhaps that’s why I am more comfortable thinking about MS patients’ quality of life rather than being into the hard science of medicine and understanding how medicines work. I’m thinking in particular of botulinum toxin, more commonly known by the trade name Botox.

If the word botulinum sounds familiar, it might be because it is synonymous with botulism, a serious illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which can cause food poisoning, muscle paralysis, and even death. Cases of botulism in the food chain have become more frequent, and recently there was a recall of a popular name-brand cheese dip due to contamination. How a poisonous bacterium can be used beneficially is one of those medical questions I try not to think about and instead accept on faith that it works in beneficial ways.

A recent article, “Taming a Toxin,” published in Brain & Life, which is the layperson’s magazine from the American Academy of Neurology, highlights the history of botulinum toxin and its assorted uses. From “Taming a Toxin,” I learned that there are two types of botulinum toxin: types A and B. Type A is manufactured under the names Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin. Type B is Myobloc. I’m most familiar with Botox because it has been a regular part of treating my MS symptoms for a few years.

We all think of Botox as a vanity treatment, used to fight the effects of aging by smoothing wrinkles on the face. But it has many more uses, including several for people with multiple sclerosis. I’ve discussed the use of Botox for my bladder and how it works well at controlling the overactive signals and impulses that often accompany MS. I’ve had bladder Botox injections done six times now, and each time the effects last for about 10 months. I consider that use a success. So, when my neurologist suggested I try Botox injections in my hamstring and quad muscles to treat the spasticity in my legs, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Unfortunately, that use doesn’t last as long as in the bladder; I have the leg muscle injections done every three months.

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Doctors do my bladder injections while I am asleep under light anesthesia, so I can’t tell you what those feel like. I do know the drug is injected into 30 different spots in my bladder and some people have it done in their doctor’s office without anesthesia, so it must not be too terrible.

The injections in my legs are not horrible, but I have to be honest and say they do hurt a bit. When the neurologist does the injection, she is placing the treatment directly into the spastic muscle, and I think the reaction of the muscle is more what I feel than the actual needle. To me, the very momentary pain confirms she has hit the right spot. The effect is not immediate; it can take up to a week or so to fully feel the benefits of the injections.

It confounds me to think of the use of Botox for both the bladder and spastic legs because it works on my legs by relaxing my spastic muscles. I can’t help but think about my bladder and what would happen if it became relaxed. Professionals use this toxin for many other medical applications, such as for the treatment of migraines and chronic tremors. The company that manufactures Botox has close to 800 patent uses on file, and we shouldn’t be surprised when the Food and Drug Administration approves even more ways to engage with this treatment.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Laura Kolaczkowski comes from Beavercreek, Ohio, and worked at the University of Dayton for over 25 years until MS challenged her enough to go onto full-time disability. She is active in the MS community on multiple levels, and writes for her own personal blog, InsideMyStory and as a patient expert for MultipleSclerosis.net. Laura is the Lead Patient Representative and co-principal investigator for iConquerMS™, a patient powered MS research network. Laura freely admits her Liberal Arts background fuels her interest in patient engagement and empowerment and she struggles with the science of MS.
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Laura Kolaczkowski comes from Beavercreek, Ohio, and worked at the University of Dayton for over 25 years until MS challenged her enough to go onto full-time disability. She is active in the MS community on multiple levels, and writes for her own personal blog, InsideMyStory and as a patient expert for MultipleSclerosis.net. Laura is the Lead Patient Representative and co-principal investigator for iConquerMS™, a patient powered MS research network. Laura freely admits her Liberal Arts background fuels her interest in patient engagement and empowerment and she struggles with the science of MS.

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19 comments

  1. Sarah Steel says:

    I have the Botox in my leg and the relief from it for me is instant . My injections tend to be four monthly . Like the article say you can tell when it’s in the right place as you can feel it . It doesn’t exactly hurt but you can feel it in the muscle that is been injected . It is a strange sensation . You do think I wish they would take the needle out . Almost like nerve pain I suppose .

    • Janice says:

      If located in NYC, would you kindly share the name of your doctor? I am having difficulty finding a local physician experienced using Botox for spasticity. Thank you.

  2. Cyndi says:

    Thank you for this article. I have periodic extreme difficulty in drawing back my lower leg/bending the knee. My neurologist has suggested trying botox at hamstrings and quads. Because I’m fearful of exactly how it will impact me (i.e. will it release the muscle so much that even walking with a walker will be difficult) I am waiting until I return from a trip before trying the new treatment. Your article and the associated comments have provided me additional courage to take this on.

    • Kate Van Rijn says:

      Your concern about walking with the walker after a Botox treatment is exactly my problem with getting this done. I have learnt that it deadens the nerves in the muscles so there is no ‘electricity’ or spasm going through it. But what I wonder is that when I get off the table after a Botox treatment in my hamstring will my leg have any knowledge of how to walk? Or will it be mush? Thanks for your help!

  3. RCG says:

    I’ve never had botox injections but have had “dry needling” for spasms in my back, neck and shoulders. I’m sure my experience of pain is pretty much the same as yours with the needle going into the tight muscles. I have had some immediate relief of spasms and their pain from dry needling. It may be worthwhile trying this for those who are concerned about Boto.

  4. Cynthia King says:

    Having Botox in my legs has been a godsend. It goes right where the spastic muscles are located. There are no side affects. It allows me more mobility, and helps relieve fatigue experienced lugging these two stumps around I call my legs.

    • Janice says:

      If located in NYC, would you kindly share your doctor’s name? I am having difficulty finding a local doctor experienced treating spasticity with botox. Thank you so much.

  5. Christine says:

    I’ve had these injections for over 2 years now. It’s helps me with walking, and drop foot.
    My quality of life has be maintained.
    I will continue until I can’t.

    • Sandy says:

      I have had what I call a “dead leg” for a long time. Have strengthened it with pt and stretching but never thought of botox. I have a difficult time with steps because it refuses to bend on its own. Now my bladder has started acting up when it’s full abd I can’t hold my urine. It just comes out like a faucet! My ms center in Pittsburgh offers a botox clinic
      Do you think it will help?

  6. MKS says:

    I had three rounds of Botox injections in legs over the course of nine months. It was a horrible experience. While there was some slight relief to the spasticity, overall the negative side effects out-weighed any positive and I stopped treatment. Within days of the injections I developed headaches, brain fog, and dizziness (I had further MRI’s to rule out anything else that could cause these symptoms). While the headaches went away after a week, the other side effects lasted at least two months. The injections themselves were extremely uncomfortable and often painful. Awful experience.

  7. Peggy says:

    Not mentioned as it’s still unclear is using Botox injections gor Triginermal Nerve Pain (TMn Not TmJ) my neuro dod for me and helped tremendously. As article said not for help with wrinkles was relaxing the nerve,

    • Ink says:

      Hi Peggy, So the botox was injected into the nerve or in the region around the nerve? That would be a dream for me……

      • Peggy says:

        Ink just see question. I’m not sure but guess was around nerve. The injections (several done around lower jawline most on right) also set up take Oxcarpezine (antisezure med) worked 6 months. Relief was immediate for me. Only problem was for about month just after was like having novacaine from dentist. But was so worth it.
        Unfortunately pain has returned now. Trying take meds for now. Was on Drs dime 1st now have get $.

  8. Candace says:

    I am considering borax in the stomach. My doctor recommended it for my overactive bladder due to leukodystrophy (very similar to MS). However, I am a bit nervous because I feel that it will possibly lead to many UTIs as I am very susceptible to them (as is my entire family who also have the leukodystrophy.) Does anyone have any similar experience?

  9. Dianne Renner says:

    My daughter has MS. primary progressive. She has an appointment in April to have Botox for her incontinence. How painful is this procedure? Does anyone know?

    • Linda says:

      Have had Botox injections in bladder, was simple. Dr. did a scope and did injections (25-30) at same time. Was not painful, but did feel little pricks. Also watched it on computer screen! It was a LIFE CHANGER for me. Had not been dry for about 20 years — now I am. Bladder frequency is about the same, but no extreme urgency and flow is slower so sometimes takes longer to empty bladder. I can even do a Kegel exercise now, while I haven’t had sensation in years! My Dr says injections should last approximately 6 months. Can’t wait for next appointment in 2 months. Hope this answers your question.

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