Table of Contents
Definition of Botulinum Therapy
Botulinum Therapy – Injections of botulinum neurotoxin to selectively paralyze muscle fibers. The bacterial strain Clostridium botulinum produces several forms of paralytic toxin, some of which can cause serious or fatal poisoning (botulism) when ingested.
The toxin works by blocking the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that facilitates nerve signals between muscle cells and the brain.
The blockade prevents the muscle cells from contracting. Botulinum therapy products currently available in the United States contain a weakened and purified solution of botulinum neurotoxin A (Botox) or botulinum neurotoxin B (Myobloc).
Botulinum therapy became therapeutically acceptable in the United States in 1990 when the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a consensus statement outlining the clinical applications for its use (Clinical Use of Botulinum Toxin [NIH Consensus Statement]. 1990. November 12–14; 8:1–20).
These uses include treatment for neuromuscular disorders such as dystonia, blepharospasm, cerebral palsy, strabismus, torticollis, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as spasms that result from traumatic brain injury (tbi) or spinal cord injury.
An outgrowth of these applications was the discovery that botulinum therapy causes skin wrinkles to lessen or disappear. In 2002 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved botulinum therapy as a cosmetic treatment for forehead wrinkles (frown lines).
Cosmetic applications are becoming increasingly common, with many dermatologists using botulinum therapy to reduce wrinkles around the eyes and other areas of the face and body.
In 2004 the FDA approved botulinum therapy for hyperhidrosis, a disorder of the sweat glands that results in profuse sweating. The effects of botulinum therapy last about four to six months.
Risks of botulinum therapy are slight and may include localized infection and temporary weakness of the injected muscles.
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