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Treating MS With Botulinum Toxin


What Are the Advantages of Botulinum Toxin?

The advantages of botulinum toxin injections include:

  • Improvement of discomfort related to spasticity symptoms
  • Decreased spasticity, making it easier to move the body part
  • In some cases, improved ability to use the affected part of the body

The medication is usually effective for two to six months, depending on the individual.


What Are the Disadvantages of Botulinum Toxin?

The disadvantages of botulinum toxin include:

  • The dose (amount) of botulinum toxin that can be injected each time is limited. Therefore, botulinum toxin may not be a good choice of treatment when many muscles are involved or when the spastic muscles are large ( leg muscles).
  • The effect of the injections is temporary. So, injections may need to be repeated multiple times 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).


What Are the Side Effects?

Side effects of botulinum toxin include:

  • Temporary weakness in the muscle and surrounding muscles that may interfere with the use of the injected muscle
  • Flu-like symptoms, though rare, may develop one week after the injections, but usually only last for about one day.


What Does it Mean to "Develop Antibodies" to Botulinum Toxin?

There is a slight chance that you may develop antibodies to botulinum toxin. Antibodies to botulinum toxin cause the botulinum toxin to be less effective. To minimize the risk of developing antibodies, specific guidelines are followed to restrict the frequency and dose of the medication.

Is This Treatment Right for Me?

You will be examined during  follow-up appointments to determine if the treatment is working properly. Typically, you will be re-evaluated every 3 to 6 months to determine if it is appropriate to repeat the injections.



Does Insurance Cover This Therapy?

Insurance coverage varies greatly, depending on individual insurance plans. Check with your insurance company before treatment begins.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor:

  • If you think that the medication is not working, but wait at least 2 weeks after the injection
  • If you are experiencing side effects that you think may be related to botulinum toxin
  • When the effects of the medication wear off

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on May 26, 2014
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