The botulinum toxin, also known as Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA), is approved by the FDA to treat muscle spasms, spasticity, and bladder symptoms in patients with a wide range of diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS). The therapy is based on the bacteria Clostridium botulinum — a toxin that blocks neuromuscular conduction between the nerves and the muscles. The therapeutic result is a short-term localized relaxation of the targeted muscle.
Botox is manufactured by Allergan. The prescription medicine is injected into the muscles to treat increased muscle stiffness in ankle and toe muscles in adults with lower limb spasticity, and in elbow, wrist, finger, and thumb muscles in adults with upper limb spasticity.
There are no studies yet that confirm Botox’s safety and effectiveness for treating upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, and thumb, or to treat increased stiffness in lower limb muscles other than ankle and toes.
Botox is injected approximately once every three months directly into the affected muscles by a healthcare specialist. The treatment can be repeated once the effect has worn off, but no sooner than three months in between injections.
Botox for muscle spasms in MS: What to know
The effects of the botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection and produce symptoms that may last weeks after injection. Swallowing and breathing difficulties can be life threatening. Children treated for spasticity may have a greater risk, but risk can also occur in adults.
The most common adverse reactions reported by patients with spasticity are nausea, fatigue, bronchitis, muscle weakness, and pain in the arms.
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