Botox comes to the aid of spasticity patients

(image) New Delhi: Botox – generally known as a wonder anti-ageing drug, is now helping the patients of spasticity to move their limbs and perform day to day tasks without external help.

According to doctors, Botox (Botulinum Toxin type A), increases the functional ability of stiff muscles by weakening them which can be due to stroke, head injury, cerebral palsy or dystonia etc.

"Earlier medicines used to affect the whole body. But with Botox, we inject the affected part only. It relaxes the affected part which is less mobile and increases mobility," says Dr Vinay Goyal, Department of Neurology, AIIMS.

"Botox is injected in the muscle to block overactive nerves that trigger excessive muscle contractions. Apart from that, it also relieves pain in the affected parts and a patient can do his daily activities like brushing, bathing etc with considerable ease," he says.

The US Food and Drug Administration has last year approved Botox to treat spasticity in the muscles of the elbow, wrist, and fingers in adults.

According to Dr Anshu Rohatgi, senior consultant, Dept of Neurology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, spasticity occurs when muscles in some areas of the body become tight and painful, specially after stroke and severe head injury making movement difficult.

"Spasticity can be very disruptive because it interferes with mobility and makes routine activities such as dressing, hygiene and eating difficult," he says.

"Botox breaks the signal between the stiff muscle and the nerves and it relaxes the overactive muscles," he adds.

The cost of the treatment depends on the the nature of the disease and amount of medicine to be used. A 100 unit vial of Botox costs around Rs 14,000.

Strokes are a major cause of adult spasticity, which occurs when muscles fail to respond to the nervous system`s signal to relax. As a result, the muscle remains contracted, causing pain and restricted mobility.

A clenched fist, flexed wrist and bent elbow are signs of this, and can interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily activities such as dressing and hygiene.

Dr K S Anand, senior consultant at Dept of Neurology, Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, there is no side effect of this drug and it is given at the interval of 2 to 6 months, depending on the severity of the problem.

It is administered after three months of the onset of the problem, as in this time period, the natural body recovery takes place. It is not a permanent cure and we decide the doses according to the nature of the disease," says Dr Anand.

Extensive physiotherapy alongwith Botox brings good results. Dr Goyal has a word of caution for the patients though.

"Administering Botox needs expertise and good knowledge of the anatomy of human body. Its not a simple injection. 80 per cent of patients coming to me say they have taken the injection earlier but did not get desired results," he says.

"Either the collection of muscles to be injected is wrong or the dose is not correct. We need to inject only the weak muscles. If we inject the wrong muscles, effect can be opposite," says Dr Goyal.