Botox (Botulinum toxin, type A) is a medicine. That's it. A medicine. Anything and everything you've heard from Aunt Millie or on the local news or in the gossip column of the newspaper is likely wrong information that might mislead you and move you away from a potentially helpful therapy.
Not everyone needs or can benefit from Botox therapy, but for those who do, here's the scoop:
It is a medicine that is injected into its site of action rather than swallowed like a pill. This gives if one major advantage: the amount of the drug that passes through your liver and kidneys is MUCH less than a pill that is swallowed. Makes sense, huh?
Botox works by temporarily stopping the conduction of a nerve impulse from reaching the muscle it is connected to, so for about three months the drug prevents the muscle fiber from contracting. But remember, you have tens of thousands - and in some muscles - millions of muscle fibers. Botox acts at only a fraction of those fibers depending on the dose. That's were the doctor comes in. A skilled and experienced botox injector knows how much of the medicine to use to create the desired response.
It turns out that research also shows that Botox acts to prevent the release of inflammatory (painful) substances from the ends of the trigeminal nerve (this part is for my headache patients!). The trigeminal nerve is one of the major players in driving headache pain, so the theory goes that if we reduce inflammation at the ends of the trigeminal nerve (the areas we inject on the forehead, temples and neck) then we should be able to reduce migraine pain.
FDA approved uses for Botox include:
Treatment of chronic migraine
Treatment of cervical dystonia (neck stiffness and involuntary neck postures or temor)
Treatment of spasticity (stiff and spastic muscles, such as after a stroke or with multiple sclerosis)
Blepharospasm (involuntary eye closure)
Treatment of hyperhidrosis (excessive armpit sweating)
If you'd like to learn more about Botox, click here to see the Allergan Botox site, they are the makers of the drug and have great resources for you