Botulinum Toxin Injections (Botox) for Headaches and Migraines
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Botulinum toxin injections are used to treat a variety of disorders related to abnormal muscle contractions. Botox is the trade name for botulinum toxins A and B, which are forms of a naturally occurring substance derived from a type of food poisoning called botulism.
How do Botox Injections Work?
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Botulism occurs when someone eats something that contains the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The neurotoxins produced by the botulinum can cause paralysis in various parts of the body. If the muscles in the chest become paralyzed, for example, breathing becomes difficult and, in extreme cases, this paralysis can lead to death.
When Botox is injected into a specific part of the body, the neurotoxins attach themselves to the nerve endings that surround the affected muscles. The toxins inhibit the release of acetylcholine -- the neurotransmitter that triggers muscle contractions. In doing so, the Botox injections help your muscles to relax by effectively blocking the signals your body sends to them that tells them to contract abnormally or to spasm.
What Conditions do Botox Injections Treat?
Botox injections are used to treat a broad range of conditions. These include:
- Dystonia - involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the muscles. Dystonia may occur in the arms, legs or in the neck. When it occurs in the neck, it is called cervical dystonia.
- Blepharospasm - a disorder that affects the muscles that control eyelid movement. It is characterized by increased blinking.
- Strabismus - a disorder that affects the muscles that support the alignment of the eyes. Patients with convergent strabismus or esotropia, have an eye that turns towards the nose. Patients with divergent strabismus or exotropia have an eye that turns away from the nose. Although the eyes generally turn in different directions with strabismus, sometimes both eyes will be turned upward or downward.
- Spasticity - a disorder where muscles in certain parts of the body are permanently contracted or tightened and unable to relax.
- Headaches - Botox is used to treat both migraine and tension heads.
- Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating) - this is a disorder where people sweat heavily from their hands, face or armpits. Sometimes this sweating is related to a physical activity and sometimes the person sweats all the time without any physical exertion.
Why Come to the University of Maryland to Receive Botox Injections?
University of Maryland neurologists are very experienced with using Botox injections to treat the conditions listed above, and they consult with other members of a multidisciplinary treatment team when necessary to provide the best treatment for each patient.
For more information about the University of Maryland Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, or to make an appointment, call the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service at 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).