Botulinum toxin, a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, may be best known as the marketed drug Botox for smoothing out wrinkles between the eyebrows. But it also has many medical uses beyond its visible age-erasing abilities.
The FDA has approved the use of Botox to treat chronic migraines, and long before it became the cosmetic surgery of choice for millions, the protein botulinum toxin was an effective treatment for eye muscle disorders as well as forms of dystonia, a neurological condition that causes involuntary and excessive muscle spasms. Let’s take a closer look at how this protein can treat these non-cosmetic medical conditions.
The Migraine Connection
Botulinum toxin is basically a nerve poison that temporarily blocks nerve cells to specific tissues, glands or muscles. Botox is a specific formulation of the toxin.
The FDA approval allows physicians to use Botox as a treatment for patients who suffer from migraines — a debilitating form of head pain that hinders millions all over the world — at least 15 days out of every month. Research has shown that the toxin prevents pain signals from reaching nerve endings in the tissue surrounding the brain. The injections are given about every 12 weeks around the neck and head with the overall goal of minimising the severity of future headache symptoms.
If you suffer from migraines, consider botox in Cairns at Jade Cosmetic Clinic who safe and effectively treat migraines with Botox injections. It’s important to note that Botox has not been shown to be effective for those who suffer migraines less than 14 days out of the month, or for other forms of headaches. It’s extremely important for migraine patients to discuss with their doctor whether Botox is appropriate for their condition.
Botulinum Toxin and Movement Disorders
Botulinum toxin injections have been used to manage various muscle and movement disorders since the late 1980s when it was FDA-approved to treat uncontrollable blinking and lazy eye in patients over 12 years old. In 2000, the FDA also approved the drug for cervical dystonia, a muscle spasm that causes the head and neck to pull in one direction.
Botulinum toxin is also used for other types of dystonia and has been particularly effective for focal dystonia, where the muscle contractions are limited to a specific part of the body, such as the head and neck or half of the face.
To treat dystonia, the toxin is injected directly into the dystonic muscles and stops muscle contractions by blocking the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. The effect can last for several months before the injections are repeated.
How long botulinum toxin will remain a popular cosmetic surgery drug is yet to be seen, but it’s worth knowing that there is more to it than face value.