Botulinum Toxin

Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin that helps relax an overly tense muscle by blocking the release of certain chemical substances at the nerve-muscle junction. It is also thought to interfere with the release of pain signals and this principle underlies its effect on migraine. These characteristics of the toxin have been utilised by specialised neurology centres around the world, benefitting hundreds of patients each day.

Depending upon the clinical condition, the toxin is administered by a local injection just under the skin or into the muscle. The procedure may require the guidance of electromyography. The procedure, although associated with mild discomfort, is generally well tolerated. An initial detailed appointment is necessary to ensure the suitability of treatment to the clinical condition. The follow up appointments are short, approximately 20 minutes. The maximum effect of therapy occurs after a few days and repeat injections are needed on periodic basis (generally 3 monthly but the interval may vary depending on your condition and an individual response).

1. Movement disorders

  1. Cervical Dystonia – involuntary contraction of neck muscles leading to abnormal turning or twisting of head to one side.
  2. Limb Dystonia – excessive tightness of muscles in the upper or lower limbs leading to abnormal posturing or movement.
  3. Blephrospasm – uncontrollable repetitive twitching of eyelids with photosensitivity and eye discomfort.
  4. Hemifacial spasm – involuntary twitching of one eye with or without twitching of the same side of face.
  5. Tremor
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2. Headache and neuropathic pain syndromes

  1. Chronic migraines migraines – intractable migraines not responding to maximal medical therapy and occurring on at least 15 days in a month can also benefit from botulinum toxin.
  2. Trigeminal neuralgia
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3. Excessive sweating

Also called “hyperhiderosis”. It may involve axillary regions or palms and soles.

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PBS and Botulinum Toxin

Pharmaceutical benefits scheme provides for only some of the above conditions. While role of Botulinum toxin has been demonstrated to be very beneficial in a number of other conditions, the toxin is not available on PBS and there may not be a corresponding Medicare benefit schedule for this. In such cases, an out-of-pocket expense may incur. Please enquire regarding your condition prior to the appointment although sometimes it may only be possible to advise on this after the consultation.

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