Essential Tremor and Botox

June 30, 2018

Botox is a drug prepared from the bacterial toxin botulin, which is used medically to treat muscular conditions and is also used cosmetically to treat lines and wrinkles by temporary paralyzing facial muscles for a more youthful appearance. Botox is a neurotoxic protein produced by bacteria, and is inactive and non-toxic. Some people also use botox to treat excessive sweating, migraines, muscular disorders, and some other bladder and bowel disorders. Botox can cause botulism, and illness that causes respiratory failure and can actually be deadly. Just one gram of the botulinum toxin could kill over 1 million people. 

The bacteria is mostly found in natural settings like soil, lakes and forests. The bacterium can also be found in the intestines of some mammals and fish and in the gills and organs of shellfish. Spores that are found are generally harmless, the problem occurs when the spores transform into vegetative cells and the cell population increases. At that point, the bacteria produces the toxin that can be deadly. Neurotoxins target the nervous system, disrupting the process on how signals are made and damages the ability neuron shave to communicate effectively. 

Even though the toxin can be deadly in certain instances, it has been proven successful as a therapeutic protein. The toxin can be injected into humans in very, very small concentrations and then prevents the signals from nerves from reaching muscles, which paralyzes them. When muscles move, they move because the nerve releases a neurotransmitter, where the nerve endings meet the muscle cells. The neurotransmitter attaches to receptors on muscle cells and causes the muscles to become shorter or longer, which is where the movement comes from. 

Because botox does paralyze muscles, it can treat tremorscaused by essential tremor. It is not effective in treating all types of tremors, but can be useful in tremors of the head, hands or voice, which happen to be the most common areas for tremors to occur. Botox can help improve tremors for up to three months at a time, by just injections. If botox is used to treat hand tremors, it can cause some weakness in hand and finger movements. If it is used to treat the voice, it can cause difficulty swallowing and a hoarse voice. 

Especially with head tremors, if left untreated, they will worsen over time and interfere with drinking and communication. Oral medications generally don’t work well with head tremors, so botox may be a great options. Head tremors tend to be the most life altering and even embarrassing for those suffering, because they are the most obvious, and can become more pronounced in already stressful situations. 

Overall, the majority of patients with head or hand tremors are substantially improved with botox injections of the neck and hands. These injections can reduce embarrassment and allow for better communication abilities. Side effects are usually mild and only tend to last a few weeks. Benefits of injections of botox usually outweigh side effects and risks, and injections are a great way to treat essential tremor for extended periods of time.