Dr. M.J. Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Botulinum Toxin Injections: A treatment for muscle spasms
What is botulinum toxin?
Botulinum toxin is a protein. It can stop some of the chemical messages that are sent from nerves. These messages tell the muscles to contract in spasms (to tighten up). Botulinum toxin is used to stop muscle spasms because it blocks these messages.
Are botulinum toxin injections safe?
Botulinum toxin is made by the same bacteria that causes food poisoning. A high dose of botulinum toxin could be fatal, just as food poisoning can be fatal. However, the dose given in injections is so small that it's unlikely you'll have any harmful effects from the toxin.
Botulinum toxin has been used safely in thousands of people. It has been used for more than 10 years.
Why do I need botulinum toxin injections?
Your doctor may be considering botulinum toxin injections to treat certain muscle spasms on your face or eyelids. The injections can also be used for some eye movement disorders, such as a lazy eye. Botulinum toxin is a standard treatment for spasmodic torticollis, a muscle spasm that causes the head and neck to pull in one direction. Your doctor may use the botulinum toxin injections to treat other problems as well.
How are botulinum toxin injections given?
Botulinum toxin is mixed with saline (salt water) and injected into the muscle with a very small needle. You may receive 5 to 10 injections.
You might have some soreness at the injection sites. If your injection sites get sore, you can take acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (one brand name:Motrin). You can also put an ice pack on the painful area.
Will I have any side effects?
You might have weakness in the muscles that were injected, muscle soreness that may affect your whole body, difficulty swallowing or a red rash that lasts for several days after the injections. Some people have severe weakness in the muscles that were injected. All side effects go away quickly.