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Botox for Stroke Patients: Can It Reduce Spasticity Long-Term?

understanding botox for stroke patients in recovery

Botox for stroke patients offers a temporary solution to spasticity — but you can see long-term results if you seek treatment correctly.

Most patients aren’t told exactly how Botox works, so they only see short-term results. This article will show you how to turn your temporary gains from Botox into lasting relief.

Trying Botox for stroke recovery might be a waste of time and money unless you fully understand the following concepts.

Understanding the Root Cause of Spasticity

Spasticity is a condition where muscles become stiff and contracted after neurological injury like stroke.

Patients may feel like spasticity is a problem with the muscles, but the problem actually stems from miscommunication between the brain and the muscles.

When stroke damages the motor cortex, it impairs the brain’s ability to send signals that the muscles move. And when muscles don’t get any signals from the brain, they tense up in order to protect themselves.

The disconnection between the brain and the muscles is the root cause of spasticity. This implies that restoring the brain-muscle connection will help relieve spasticity, which is true.

Once you retrain your brain to control your muscles, the spasticity will go away. So, how can Botox play a role in treatment?

Relieving Spasticity with Botox for Stroke Patients

doctor injecting patient with botox for stroke recovery

Botulinum toxin (Botox) helps relax your muscles without getting your brain on board. Botox is a “nerve block” that blocks the release of chemicals that signal your muscles to tighten. As a result, your muscles relax.

According to WebMD, it can take 2-4 weeks for Botox to improve muscle stiffness. Many stroke patients rave about the “instant” muscle-relaxing benefits of Botox.

However, without getting your brain on board, Botox merely addresses the symptom of spasticity, not the real problem.

This means that once the Botox wears away after a few months, the problem will come back.

While this can be very beneficial in the short-term, you want to plan for the long-term, too.

Why Botox Is Only a Temporary Treatment

Botox becomes a temporary treatment when you don’t use it in conjunction with physical therapy to restore your brain-muscle communication.

It’s kind of like using pain killers for a broken ankle without wearing a cast. The painkillers will make pain will go away, but you aren’t doing anything to heal the root problem.

That’s why it’s important to treat spasticity on both levels: relieve the symptoms temporarily with Botox and cure the root cause long-term by doing rehab exercises.

Doing Botox without participating in physical therapy will make the treatment temporary. But if you use the effects of Botox to create an opportunity to exercise, then you can see long-term results.

The Botox will loosen up your muscles so that you can move in the short-term, and the exercise will help rewire the brain so that you can keep moving in the long-term.

The Doctor’s Word on Botox for Stroke

doctor's input on how botox for stroke recovery works

Ross Bogey, DO, says that Botox may indirectly help with stroke rehab, especially for patients who can’t undergo therapy because of spasticity. The keyword here is indirectly.

Botox itself doesn’t resolve spasticity long-term – it simply creates the opportunity to exercise, which can improve your spasticity for good.

WebMD quoted him saying, “We often use Botox to reduce spasticity so patients can participate in therapy that leads to … recovery.”

In other words, Botox creates the opportunity to exercise, and exercise is what leads to recovery from spasticity.

So overall, Botox is an excellent treatment for spasticity when used as an opportunity to move your affected muscles and rewire your brain.

Botox alone creates temporary results. But Botox coupled with rehab exercise creates lasting results.

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See how Susan is recovering from post-stroke paralysis

“I had a stroke five years ago causing paralysis on my left side which remains today.

I recently began using FitMi.

At first it was difficult for me to be successful with a few of the exercises but the more I use it, the better my scores become.

I have recently had some movement in my left arm that I did not have before.

I don’t know if I can directly relate this to the use of the FitMi but I am not having occupational therapy so I conclude that it must be benefiting me.

The therapy modality motivates me to use it daily and challenges me to compete against my earlier scores.

I heartily recommend it!-Susan, stroke survivor

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