Botulinum toxin injections are one approach to the treatment of muscle spasticity. These injections can be given with ease and have minimal side effects. They can also be used in very focal spasticity problems that involve a few muscle groups. This treatment may not be right for some patients, such as patients with severe, widespread muscle spasticity, and patients with permanent muscle contractures that have become rigid.
Over the next three decades, 1895-1925, as food canning was approaching a billion-dollar-a-year industry, botulism was becoming a public health hazard. Karl Friedrich Meyer, a prodigiously productive Swiss-American veterinary scientist created a center at the Hooper Foundation in San Francisco, where he developed techniques for growing the organism and extracting the toxin, and conversely, for preventing organism growth and toxin production, and inactivating the toxin by heating. The California canning industry was thereby preserved.
Botox is a brand name of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are other brand names for botulinum, such as Xeomin. In large amounts, this toxin can cause botulism, which you probably associate with food poisoning. Despite the fact that one of the most serious complications of botulism is paralysis, scientists have discovered a way to use it to human advantage. Small, diluted amounts can be directly injected into specific muscles causing controlled weakening of the muscles.
Charges can vary from $8 to $20 a unit depending on where you are in the country and the level of dilution, meaning that the price may actually be higher than the quoted price if a clinic dilutes it out instead of preparing full-strength Botox. The cost of the procedure varies as it depends upon the total number of units injected and the number of sites treated.
With small children, I find that being prepared allows us to function better. My family food preps for the week with fruits, veggies and snack-size portions. I keep the snacks on a shelf that my children can easily reach, so they can choose a healthy option if they’re hungry and I’m unable to get up. Meals are well-thought-out and prepared ahead of time, in case of a migraine attack. I always have a back-up plan for my children. I have alternative arrangements for them after school if I am unable to care for them or myself. I also have activities planned. I keep crafts around that occupy my children’s time but also keep sound and stress to a minimum. We color, build Legos and play with Play-Doh all while sitting in rooms with strategically placed lights and brightness. I save screen time for when I need a few moments of quiet. We keep a routine and schedule, but also stay flexible. A schedule allows my family to know what to expect for our days and evenings. My children are able to continue their day if I have a migraine attack because they know what needs to be done and in what order. We have strict bedtimes that allow my children’s brains to grow and mine to recover. Along with this, I have taught them that moms don’t always feel well, and we may need to adjust the schedule from time to time to accommodate my migraine. I keep medication that can fight a migraine attack with me for use on the go and safely at home. I see a neurologist on a regular basis who helps me manage my migraine symptoms and medication.
Shah says that it’s harder to treat wrinkles with just Botox as they get more and more ingrained into the face. “Some people may need just a few injections, but some may require more treatments, such as laser treatments or a series of smaller procedures, which are going to cost more. Whereas if they came in five years earlier, I may have just been able to use Botox to get the same effect,” she says.
Hoffman’s husband’s experience is not unusual. Once a patient gets the more expensive prescription, health insurance providers can still try and push them back to cheaper drugs. Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Loder says that most health insurance companies stop paying for Botox if it’s not reducing a patient’s migraines by at least 50 percent. “It’s important to keep careful headache diaries and keep careful notes in order to be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatment is worth it,” Loder says. “You’re not home free once they approve it.”
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Tell your doctor if you received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic injection; take muscle relaxants; take allergy or cold medicines; take sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.
Safety and effectiveness of BOTOX have not been established for the treatment of other upper or lower limb muscle groups. Safety and effectiveness of BOTOX have not been established for the treatment of spasticity in pediatric patients under age 18 years. BOTOX has not been shown to improve upper extremity functional abilities, or range of motion at a joint affected by a fixed contracture. Treatment with BOTOX is not intended to substitute for usual standard of care rehabilitation regimens.
Recently, there have been concerns about retrograde botulinum toxin transmission, meaning that the toxin could travel back to the central nervous system, causing long-term damage. Studies done in Italy by Flavia Antonucci have been mainly on a raw form of the toxin and not any of the commercially available preparations. Additionally, these studies have been performed on animals and with the injection of the toxin to one area and in a concentration of nearly 150 times greater than normal injections for cosmetic indications, which are spread over multiple sites.
During a recent therapy session, one of Dr. Norman Rosenthal's regulars said he was considering suicide. It wasn't the first time the patient had entertained the thought, and even though he was on antidepressants and always kept up with his appointments, Rosenthal, a licensed psychiatrist with a private practice in North Bethesda, Md., wanted to offer his patient something else.
This is where Botox comes into play. When you get consistent Botox injections, you prevent potential wrinkle formations from getting deeper or worse. Botox limits the range of facial muscle movement (when done skillfully, your face will not get that frozen look) so that wrinkles don't worsen over time. If you have a bad habit of frowning or lifting your brows for no reason, consistent Botox injections can also help your face kick these bad habits and therefore prevent any potential lines from getting etched in your skin. Getting frequent Botox injections may also help relax your facial muscles so that you don't need as a high a dose or as frequent as an injection to maintain your results.
Chronic migraines are what were formerly known as “transformed” migraines. These are near daily headaches, sometimes with migraine features but otherwise with frequent features of tension headaches. This may sound trivial but the treatment for tension headaches, typically with analgesics, would only make this syndrome worse. We learned that treating these with migraine preventive medications proved mostly effective. The current International Classification of Headache Disorders defines chronic migraine as a recurrent headache that has been ongoing for the past 3 months, occurs on at least 15 days per month, lasts at least 4 hours per day, and has 8 or more days per month when the headache has features of a migraine or responds to a typical migraine medication.
The migraines started later in life, before my lupus diagnosis. While sometimes they’d come out of the blue or I’d wake up with them, other times I’d see them coming. From a neurologist’s suggestion, I learned some of my “triggers” such as weather changes (specifically, drops in barometric pressure and incoming storms), hormonal changes and dairy. This past year I significantly reduced my dairy intake and although that didn’t eliminate the migraines, if I did eat dairy, I was sure to get one. Many of my migraines would also start as tension headaches. My neck is always extremely tight and eventually the constant tightness causes a migraine. Due to this, my old rheumatologist suggested taking a muscle relaxer at the beginning of a headache or before bed to keep my muscles from tensing up overnight and preventing a migraine. It worked sometimes… but definitely not enough.
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In clinical trials, 30.6% of patients (33/108) who were not using clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) prior to injection, required catheterization for urinary retention following treatment with BOTOX® 200 Units as compared to 6.7% of patients (7/104) treated with placebo. The median duration of post-injection catheterization for these patients treated with BOTOX® 200 Units (n = 33) was 289 days (minimum 1 day to maximum 530 days) as compared to a median duration of 358 days (minimum 2 days to maximum 379 days) for patients receiving placebo (n = 7).