Botox® FAQs

What Is Botox?

Many people are familiar with cosmetic Botox, but did you know that Botox can also be used to treat certain neurological conditions and improve the quality of life? Before people started using it to smooth out wrinkles, Botox was first approved to treat movement disorders. So what exactly is Botox? Botox is a brand name for botulinum toxin. The first thing most people notice is the word “toxin.” It sounds scary, but what may seem like a bad thing is actually very good at treating certain conditions when used in small amounts.

Many people have heard of the term “botulism” as it relates to food poisoning. The same bacteria that cause botulism are also responsible for the therapeutic benefits of botulinum toxin. The bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum produces a neurotoxin that can be deadly in food, but beneficial for medical and cosmetic applications. The toxin has been found to be very effective when it is injected into targeted areas, in very small amounts, resulting in a safe treatment for many conditions that are difficult to treat.

Could You Benefit from Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injections?

Many people suffer from movement disorders and chronic pain, making it difficult to focus on and enjoy daily life. Botox injections can help where other prescription drugs or therapies haven’t worked in the past by blocking the nerve impulses that tell the muscle to contract.

Movement disorders such as dystonia create involuntary muscle spasms, often localized to one area of the body. The spasms can result in repetitive movements, abnormal body postures, and jerking movements. Often, a cause is difficult to determine and treatments can be limited, but Botox may be able to provide relief. The neurotoxin can interrupt the nerve-muscle signals that cause contraction, allowing the muscles to relax and restore normal position.

For the treatment of painful, chronic conditions where other methods of pain control are ineffective, botulinum toxin can be used to help block the nerve impulses and prevent transmission of pain signals to the brain.

In addition to medical treatments, Botox is also commonly known for helping to reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines. It’s an FDA-approved method that has been helping people all over the world look younger. This popular treatment has been around for almost 20 years!

If you’re interested in learning more about Botox and how it might help to reduce your pain and muscle spasms, or just help you look younger, contact the specialists at Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center. Our team is dedicated to helping you and can provide a full range of care options.

Is It Safe?

Botulinum toxin, often known by the brand name Botox, received FDA-approval as a treatment for various movement disorders in 1989. A little over a decade later, Botox was approved for use in cosmetic procedures. Several other neurotoxins have been approved since then, under the names Myobloc and Dysport, to name a few. Already accepted as a safe practice for the treatment of wrinkles, the popularity of Botox for cosmetic use continues to increase. When administered by a trained doctor, Botox injections are also a safe and effective way to treat many medical conditions such as bruxism, TMJ dysfunction, dystonia, and other movement disorders.

Are There Possible Side Effects?

The use of Botulinum toxin for the treatment of certain movement disorders is considered to be a safe and effective treatment that has been FDA-approved for 30 years. The use of Botox for cosmetic purposes has been approved for over 15 years. However, as with all treatments, there is always a minor risk of side effects. Although rare, side effects of botulinum injection may include pain or swelling at the injection site, headache, difficulty swallowing and neck pain. Since each person is different and Botox can be used for many different kinds of treatments, it’s a good idea to discuss the likeliness of all potential risks and implications with your doctor.

Medical (Therapeutic) Botox Applications

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is the medical term for what most people would call teeth grinding or clenching of teeth. It can happen when you’re awake (awake bruxism), asleep (sleep bruxism), or both. While it may not be life-threatening, bruxism can create a large host of problems if severe enough or left untreated.

Causes

There doesn’t seem to be one specific cause for bruxism. Many factors can contribute to it, and those factors may be different for each person. One of the most common causes is linked to stress. Stress can be linked to a situation, being angry, or even an intense focus on something, and it can put extreme wear and tear on a person’s body. Dealing with stress can create tense muscles, which in turn lead to headaches, pain, and loss of sleep. If stress doesn’t seem to be an issue, there are other possible theories such as age (it’s more common in young children), misalignment of teeth, certain neurological problems or even hereditary influence. A person experiencing bruxism symptoms should discuss their history and symptoms with their doctor to find out what is the most likely cause.

Symptoms

If you’re waking up with a headache and tired jaw, you may have Bruxism. In mild cases, patients can experience earaches, headaches, and fatigue from disrupted sleep. In more critical cases, patients may experience tooth wear and even jaw dysfunction such as lockjaw. Over time, the continuous pressure on your jaw and teeth can lead to increased tooth sensitivity or even significant tooth damage such as tooth flattening or chipping of teeth. It’s also common for patients to complain of painful or stiff jaw muscles and sometimes a clicking of jaw joints. If you think that you have a problem with grinding your teeth, questions about it, call Neurology Solutions today to discuss how Botox may be a possible solution.

Treatment

For some, treatment of teeth grinding can be fairly simple, depending on the cause. In many cases where stress has been identified as the culprit, just the increased awareness alone is enough to help remedy the problem. Establishing stress-reduction habits such as meditation or exercise can help. In cases where anger or aggression is involved, the patient may benefit from counseling to modify behavior. If awareness and behavior modification isn’t enough, Botox has been found to be a quick and effective treatment. By injecting the botulinum toxin directly into the targeted area, it can relax the jaw muscle just enough to reduce grinding and clenching without affecting other actions such as talking or chewing. This is particularly helpful for people with sleep bruxism that can be intense, and they can’t otherwise control.

TMJ Dysfunction

The “TMJ” in TMJ dysfunction refers to your temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your jaw bone to the side of your skull. It’s an important and complex joint that is responsible for how we talk and chew our food. TMJ dysfunction happens when the joint becomes damaged or inflamed. For people with this condition, it can be uncomfortable, or even painful, but there are several things you can do to provide relief.

Causes

To determine the cause of TMJ dysfunction, a doctor will review patient history and symptoms. The exact cause of TMJ dysfunction can be difficult to pinpoint and can be influenced by several factors. Where bruxism is often caused by stress, TMJ dysfunction can be caused by prolonged or extreme bruxism (teeth grinding or jaw clenching). Finding ways to manage bruxism should help to alleviate TMJ dysfunction. Additional potential causes of TMJ disorders include damage due to injury or arthritis, or an overworked jaw from chewing gum.

Symptoms

TMJ disorders often have many symptoms in common with teeth grinding. Patients can experience any one or many of the following symptoms: pain in the jaw, headaches, earaches, difficulty chewing, and in severe cases, lockjaw.

Treatment

If your TMJ dysfunction is caused by bruxism or an overworked jaw, treatment can be as simple as giving your jaw a rest. You can start by managing stress and not chewing gum for a while. In addition, Botox therapy may be a suggested treatment to help ease the tension in your jaw. This quick treatment can provide months of relief from a painful jaw and headaches.

Movement Disorders

The term movement disorders is a general category of complex neurological conditions that affect movement. They include well-known disorders such as Parkinson’s, Tremor, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Many movement disorders aren’t fully understood, but some causes are attributed to genetics while others are due to trauma (damage) to a particular part of the nervous system.

The common thread among them is the increase or decrease in involuntary muscle contractions resulting in abnormal movements, repetitive motions, or even vocal tics. Some movement disorders are more serious and more degenerative than others, but medical Botox may be able to help provide relief for some symptoms.

Dystonia

Dystonia is a type of movement disorder characterized by involuntary, sustained muscle contractions resulting in twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal body postures. Dystonia can affect almost any region of the body including the arms, legs, neck, eyelids, and vocal cords. As with many movement disorders, Dystonia can be difficult to treat because each person may have a different experience. Are the muscle contractions focused in a particular area? What is the frequency of contractions? Do they seem to be triggered by an event or get worse over time? What age was the patient when symptoms started? Answers to these questions may be different for each patient, and that’s why it’s important to work with a neurologist that specializes in the area of movement disorders and can provide the individualized care needed.

Other Uses for Botox

Nerve Block

Nerve blocks are used for the treatment and management of pain. They are usually a combination of anesthetic (numbing medication) and anti-inflammatory medication. Botox can be used as a component of some nerve blocks to help prevent the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Particularly useful for during and after major surgery, nerve blocks also treat chronic pain when prescription medications aren’t effective.

There are many different kinds of nerve blocks, with applications ranging from knee-replacement to childbirth. Botox-containing nerve blocks are usually used for chronic pain and can be expected to last anywhere from six to 12 months.

Cosmetic Botox

Botox is commonly associated with a cosmetic procedure to reduce the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes and forehead. Since gaining FDA approval in 2002, millions of people worldwide have used it as a way to erase years off of their appearance and look their best. In a time when people are looking for that quick fix and want to see results in a short time, Botox is a great option.

Botox is most effective in areas where wrinkles are associated with muscle movement (facial expressions). Botulinum toxin is injected with minimal discomfort directly into the muscles to relax them and thereby softening the wrinkles. Treatments can vary, but most patients see results within 24 to 48 hours and they usually last for three to four months.

There are many benefits to choosing Botox compared to other popular methods for reducing wrinkles:

  • Treatment is fast – The full Botox injection procedure can be done in minutes. There is no lengthy pre- or post-op, and the procedure itself is just a few quick injections.
  • It’s relatively painless – Many people avoid getting Botox because of the fear that it will be painful. After all, the thought of having something injected into your face with needles doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience! For this procedure, the needles used are very small, and can hardly be felt. Most people find the entire experience to be nearly painless.
  • There’s no downtime – Since Botox is a simple, minimally invasive procedure, you can go back to your daily routine as soon as you leave the doctor’s office.
  • You’ll see results quickly – For many people, one of the biggest benefits of choosing Botox is the quick results it offers. After the procedure, people usually see a noticeable difference within 24 to 48 hours. This is much quicker when compared to a traditional facelift or even laser resurfacing, which can take days to weeks for recovery. And who hasn’t tried those expensive anti-aging creams and serums? Most find the effectiveness to be inconsistent, and if they work, it usually takes at least eight to 12 weeks to start seeing results.
  • It’s not permanent – while this may seem like a negative thing, for many people, a permanent procedure sounds scary. What if I don’t like the results? What if I don’t want to look like I have unnaturally smooth skin when I’m 80? With Botox, you have the option of getting the results you want without having the long-term commitment.

If you’ve been trying to find ways to make the face in the mirror look a few years younger, contact Neurology Solutions to make an appointment today.