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Botox for Spinal Cord Injury Patients: Can It Boost Recovery?

botox injection for spinal cord injury patient

Should you try Botox for spinal cord injury recovery?

Botox can be used to manage many spinal cord injury complications.

However, its effects are temporary, so it’s essential to understand how to use Botox to create long-term results.

You’re about to learn how Botox works and how it can be used to help with spinal cord injury recovery. Let’s get started!

What is Botox?

injecting botox for spinal cord injury

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Botox (botulinum toxin A) is a protein complex made from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

It works by blocking the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which prevents your muscles from contracting.

Because Botox is delivered through injection, it only affects the focal area of the injection site.

Generally, the effects of Botox last 3-6 months; however, it’s possible to build a resistance to the injection, so it’s ideal to delay the period in between treatments as much as possible.

Repeat injections should be administered no sooner than 12 weeks apart.

While the effects of Botox can start becoming noticeable within a few days, it will not take full effect for 2-4 weeks following the injection.

Using Botox for Spinal Cord Injury Complications

Botox can be used to manage a range of different complications one may experience after spinal cord injury including spasticity, neuropathic pain, bladder dysfunction, and excessive sweating.

1. For Spasticity

should you try botox for spinal cord injury spasticity

Spinal cord injury patients may experience spasticity, which is when their muscles become hyperresponsive and involuntarily contract.

Botox will help relax those hyperactive muscles, making it easier to move.

While under the effects of Botox, spinal cord injury patients should take advantage of their reduced spasticity and participate in an intensive physical therapy program to recover movement.

The more they practice moving without spasticity, the more they promote rewiring of the central nervous system (neuroplasticity), which will allow them to relearn functions affected by SCI.

2. For Pain

using botox for sci pain management

©iStock.com/ChesiireCat

Most spinal cord injury patients experience chronic pain.

Unmanaged pain can drastically interfere with one’s quality of life by making it difficult to perform everyday tasks and get a full night’s rest.

Pain can be the result of prolonged muscle contractions, so when Botox is used to relax spastic muscles, it also helps relieve pain.

Additionally, it’s suggested that Botox has pain-relieving properties unrelated to muscle relaxation.

3. For Bladder Dysfunction

can botox help spinal cord injury patients with bladder dysfunction

©iStock.com/Manuel-F-O

Nearly 70-84% of all spinal cord injury patients experience some extent of bladder dysfunction.

The muscle that makes up the wall of your bladder is called the detrusor, and when it contracts, it shrinks and there is less space to store urine.

Botox can help relax the detrusor so that the bladder can expand and store more urine.

4. For Excessive Sweating

treat excessive sweating with botox for spinal cord injury

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Many people experience excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) after spinal cord injury due to disrupted communication between the brain and body.

Luckily, Botox can be used to treat hyperhidrosis by blocking nerve impulses from activating the sweat glands.

Side Effects of Botox for Spinal Cord Injury

While there are many benefits to using Botox for spinal cord injury complications, there are some adverse side effects that may not make it ideal for everyone.

Common side effects of Botox for spinal cord injury complications include:

  • Soreness
  • Bruising
  • Nausea
  • General muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sweating
  • Urinary retention
  • Urinary tract infection

Botox for Spinal Cord Injury: Should You Try It?

trying botox for spinal cord injury complications

©iStock.com/Tero Vesalainen

It’s important to understand that Botox will not magically get rid of your pain, bladder problems, excessive sweating, or spasticity.

However, it can help significantly reduce them, which can provide a lot of relief and allow you to focus on your rehabilitation.

Botox is a temporary treatment, and while you can continue to get injections when its effects wear off, it is possible to build a resistance to the drug if taken too frequently.

Therefore, Botox should not be solely relied upon for managing spinal cord injury complications.

Hopefully, this article helped you understand how you can use Botox to manage spinal cord injury complications. Good luck!

Featured image: ©iStock.com/Henadzi Pechan

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