Botox For Upper Spasticity

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FDA Approves Botox® for Upper ExtremitOn March 9, 2010, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox® (onabotulinumtoxin A)of by Allergan, Inc., this drug is administered via injection by a medical profeavailable through prescription only. The approval includes its use for individuals with MS.

Spasticity or muscle stiffness and tightness is experienced by many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, brain injury, or other neurological conditions. Spasticity can severely limit the use of one’s arms and hands as well as produce pain.

Botox is given by an injection directly into the affected muscles. It blocks conduction between nerves and muscles which temporarily paralyzes spastic muscles, usually for a few months. This drug was first approved 20 years ago by the FDA for the treatment of certain eye-muscle disorders. Since that time it has also been approved by the FDA to treat three other disorders, which include a condition causing abnormal head position and neck pain; symptoms of severe underarm sweating; and the cosmetic use of temporarily improving the appearance of severe frown lines between the eyebrows.

The risks and benefits associated with Botox should be discussed with one’s doctor. The most common side effects include nausea, fatigue, bronchitis, pain, and muscle weakness. Breathing and swallowing difficulties have been reported.

Botox injections add another treatment to the growing list of medications that may help MS symptoms. Botox is a symptomatic treatment only and is not a disease-modifying therapy for MS, so it should not be used as a substitute for these therapies. The FDA points out that Botox “is not intended to substitute for physical therapy or other rehabilitative care.” Individuals who may benefit from this treatment for spasticity in the elbow, wrist, and fingers should consult their physician for specific recommendations.

For additional product information, readers may or call Allergan’s Customer Service at (800) 433-8871. For a more detailed version of this article, please refer to MSAA’s online version, which may be accessed by visiting and then selectingRecent News.” To request a printed copy of the online article, or to speak with one of MSAA’s Helpline consultants, please call (800) 532-7667.