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Dystonia & Botox®

If you’ve perused my website you’ll know that my background is in ophthalmology. It’s a speciality I love as there is so much variety. Within ophthalmology sits a small sub speciality of injections of botulinum toxin for dystonia.

You may be wondering why Botox® is being given on the NHS. But, for these patients it is far from a cosmetic procedure. For them it can be life changing (for the better). Dystonia is a neurological condition which causes involuntary muscle spasm, where the messages from the brain to the muscles get confused and fire off unpredictably. When it affects the face it causes frequent blinking and in some instances even lid closure which can affect both eyes (blepharospasm or hemi facial spasm).

As you can imagine, this can make life very difficult. Not only the feelings of isolation and distress this can bring, but also more tangible problems such as risk of falling or being unable to go to work. Botulinum toxin relaxes the muscles (in exactly the same way it does cosmetically) to allow patients to have normal life. Some people have dystonic conditions which affect other part of their body too such as torticolis (involuntary neck spasm), mouth and tongue, generalised dystonia, even the voice can be affected. Botulinum toxin injections are very effective however, it can take some time to optimum treatment as dosages start low and build up. Specific muscles in spasm are targeted and injections are tailored to individual need to proved the best results. Regular injections are required and usually are given every 3-4 months.

Botulinum toxin has numerous uses for other medical conditions and these will be covered in another blog.