Botox® Treatment for Essential Tremor

Most of us are familiar with botox—the drug that doctors have been using for years to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on people of all ages. But did you know that botox isn’t just for cosmetic purposes? Botox can actually be used for a lot of health applications, such as treating essential tremor (ET). Botox is a common method of treatment for essential tremor as it can help to alleviate symptoms.

In this article, we will discuss what exactly botox is, how botox can help essential tremor, botox facts, and more. Living with tremors is frustrating, especially if it impacts your daily life, so finding a solution is crucial. And botox might be just that.

Contents

What is Botox?

How Can Botox Help Essential Tremor?

Does Botox Work for Hand Tremors?

Botox Facts

How Do You Treat Essential Tremor?

 

What is Botox?

First and foremost: what is botox? Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. While Botox is most commonly used to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it also serves a few other health purposes. Botox can be used to help with severe underarm sweating, chronic migraines, cervical dystonia, and essential tremor.

Botox works by blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles so that the injected muscles can’t contract. The effects of Botox can last anywhere from three to twelve months and the most common side effects include bruising and swelling at the injection site.

How Can Botox Help Essential Tremor?

Now that we’re familiar with what Botox is, we’ll discuss how Botox is used for essential tremor treatment. Since Botox works by weakening the muscle it is injected into, it can be helpful to alleviate symptoms of essential tremor. When Botox is injected into the body part with tremor, the toxin paralyzes the muscle and the nerve, thus temporarily stopping the tremor. Botox can be used for head, voice, hand and facial tremors. If it’s done properly, using Botox for essential tremor can be safe, but there are still a few important facts to keep in mind, which will be covered later in the post.

Injecting Botox into hand

Does Botox Work for Hand Tremors?

Botox injections have been useful in the treatment of hand tremors for some patients. The toxin must be placed directly into the target muscles and repeated every three months in order for the effects to last. If you’re not sure how many units of botox for hands is needed, it varies on the person and severity of the case. Majority of patients receive between 25-75 units of Botox per hand.

Botox Facts

While we know that Botox can be used as a treatment for essential tremor, there are still some crucial facts about Botox to be aware of. Like any drug or surgical procedure, there are risks associated with Botox treatment for essential tremor. So before you begin treatment, make sure you consult with your doctor. Here are some important Botox facts to consider:

Botox therapy

Botox therapy is stopping muscle movements at the location of the tremor by injecting Botox into the muscles.

Botox dosages

Botox doses vary depending on the severity of the situation. A clinical trial for essential tremor tested with either 75 U of BTX or 100 U of BTX. A higher dose was required if the first dose of 75 U was not effective.

Injection locations

Botox only works exactly on the injection site, so it’s important that your doctor identifies which muscle groups have tremors as they are occurring in different positions. For example, you may have different tremors when you drink water than when you’re typing, and your doctor should be aware of those different muscle group positions so they can inject the Botox in the correct location. Botox can be injected into a variety of locations on the body, such as on facial muscles, upper or lower limb muscles, and salivary glands. The injection location depends on where you experience tremors and the injection should only be administered by a trained specialist.

Botox medication and needle

Durability

Another factor to keep in mind when it comes to using botox for essential tremor is durability. Botox injections vary in degree of tremor control and the effects are always temporary. Botox can provide limited relief for approximately three months at a time, according to the Mayo Clinic. Once those three months are complete, another round of Botox injections must be completed.

Potential side effects

At the end of the day, even though Botox can be a successful treatment for essential tremor, there is always a chance of side effects. These are the side effects for botox treatment:

  • Weakness
  • Pain at injection sites
  • Headache
  • Difficulty or pain with swallowing

The side effects differ depending on the location of the injection and how many doses you received, so it’s important to discuss this with your doctor first.

Older man writing in journal

How Do You Treat Essential Tremor?

Aside from Botox injections, these are a few other essential tremor treatments:

Systemic pharmaceutical therapy

Systemic pharmaceutical therapy is using oral medication so that the drug circulates throughout the body. The medications typically used for essential tremor are primidone or propranolol. These medications are effective for some patients, but may lose their effectiveness over time. Additionally, these medications can come with some unpleasant side effects, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, difficulty walking, and fatigue.

Common medications prescribed to treat essential tremor include beta-blockers, anti-seizure medication, and tranquilizers. Make sure to consult with a doctor before taking any medication as they can have adverse side effects and can interfere with other medications you may be on.

Source therapy

Because essential tremor starts in the brain, source therapy involves a MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound and Deep Brain Stimulation. These treatments work by targeting the tremor source in the brain.

Local therapy

Local therapy involves stopping the muscle at the location of the tremor, like with a Botox injection. The injection must be done directly into the muscle.

Lifestyle changes

Certain lifestyle changes can have great effects in alleviating essential tremor. These are some suggested lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid substances like caffeine, tobacco, and excessive alcohol
    • Have been found to increase the severity of essential tremor
  • Try to stay calm and relaxed
    • Stress exacerbates essential tremor symptoms so try meditating, doing yoga, and practicing self care to stay calm and relaxed
  • Consider timing
    • If your tremors are worse at certain parts of the day, make sure you plan to finish necessary tasks during other times
  • Use assistive devices
    • Some therapists suggest using assistive devices, like heavy glasses and wrist weights, to reduce the effects that tremors have on daily activities

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help to build muscle strength, improve coordination, and increase control. Physical therapy for essential tremor is mainly focused on resistance training, which can help alleviate some of the symptoms.

It’s also important to note the difference between essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. They are often confused with one another, but essential tremor is far more common. Both are movement disorders, but essential tremor is a rhythmic, involuntary shaking that usually affects the hands, head, torso, and legs, while Parkinson’s disease has numerous other symptoms, such as poor balance, difficulty swallowing, and stooped posture. There is also a correlation between Parkinson’s disease and Botox, as Botox can help with managing certain features of Parkinson’s disease. However, when it comes to getting properly treated, it’s important to know the difference between Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. If you’re unsure, check out an ET diagnosis guide to learn more about essential tremor. NIH.gov is also a great site for more information about using botox to treat essential tremor.

So now you know that Botox can be used for many purposes other than just reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and it can be used to help alleviate symptoms of essential tremor. Botox works by paralyzing the muscle and nerve of the muscle it’s injected into, which can help to reduce the frequency of tremors. The exact location and dosage of Botox varies depending on the severity of your tremors, so make sure to check with your doctor before moving forward.

Although Botox has been found to be useful in treating essential tremor, there are still a lot of risks involved, so you may want to try other treatments first. Aside from Botox, oral medication or simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in the severity of your symptoms. At the end of the day, living with essential tremor is frustrating, so it is useful to know that Botox is a possible treatment.

Treatment for essential tremor is a long journey for many people. Some people find a good drug or therapy right away, while others need to get creative with their doctor’s support. Cala Trio’s ground-breaking technology is tailored to your specific tremor and treatment objectives. Visit the Cala Trio therapy FAQ page to learn more about the tremor bracelet.

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