Botulinum Toxin for Focal Dystonia

Botulinum injections often are the most effective treatment for the focal dystonias. 

Injections of small amounts of this chemical into affected muscles prevents muscle contractions and can provide temporary improvement in the abnormal postures and movements that characterize dystonia.

First used to treat blepharospasm, such injections are now widely used for treating other focal dystonias, including cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis)

Botulinum toxin is readily available in several commercial forms; Botox®, Dysport®, Myobloc®, and Xeomin®.

Though their use carries the risk of temporary paralysis of the muscles being injected or the leaking of the toxin into adjacent muscle groups causing weakness or paralysis in them.

The effect of treatment is typically seen a few days after the injections. Unlike surgery, the effects of botulinum toxin injections are not permanent. This can be an advantage in some cases, but treatments must be repeated as the effects wear off. The benefits of treatment usually lasts for 3-6 months before the injections have to be repeated.

The effect of treatment will vary among individuals.

Reference: National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS)

Last updated April 25, 2017

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