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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

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Botox May Ease Multiple Sclerosis Tremors

Study Shows Botox Injections May Have a Role in Treating MS-Related Hand and Arm Tremors
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 3, 2012 -- Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) will develop a tremor, and until now, there was little that could be done to minimize this shaking.

Now new research shows that shots of Botox, the very same wrinkle-busting injection that helps frown lines, may ease hand and arm tremors.

The findings appear in Neurology.

MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body misfires against the myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves (central nervous system). Approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have MS. Jack Osbourne, a reality TV star and son of Sharon and Ozzy, recently revealed that he has MS.

Symptoms range from mild numbness in the limbs to paralysis or loss of vision. Tremors may occur in the arms, legs, head, body, or muscles needed for speaking and/or sex. They are caused by the destruction of myelin in the nerves that are responsible for voluntary movements.

Botox is FDA-approved for use in treating crossed eyes, muscle spasms, excessive sweating, migraine headaches, and loss of bladder control due to MS. It is also being investigated in a host of other diseases and conditions, including osteoarthritis.

Botox for MS Tremors?

In the study, 23 people with MS were given Botox injections or inactive shots in their affected arm. Three months later, they received the opposite treatment. Researchers measured the tremor severity and their ability to write and draw before and after the injections. They also took videos of the participants performing these tasks.

The Botox seemed to make a difference.

People showed improvement in tremor severity, writing, and drawing at six weeks and three months after the Botox shots, the study shows.

Tremor severity improved by about two points on a 10-point scale, which took a tremor from the moderate range to a milder one. Participants improved by an average of one point on a 10-point scale in writing and drawing tasks.

Muscle weakness developed in 42% of people after Botox injections, compared to 6% of those who received the inactive shot. This weakness was generally mild and went away within two weeks.

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