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More than a wrinkle reducer


Botox has been used to treat two eye disorders - strabismus and blepharospasm - from the 1970s. Blepharospasm is a disorder of the muscles that control the movement of the eyelids causing spasms that lead to rapid, uncontrollable blinking. When both eyes are affected, it becomes difficult to open the eyes;in severe cases patients may be functionally blind because they can't keep their eyes open long enough to see. Injecting Botox into the affected muscles can solve the problem.


Every migraine sufferer knows the agony that the one-sided, pulsating headache can cause. Botox can't cure migraine but it has been shown to reduce their frequency considerably. The toxin received FDA approval for treatment of chronic migraines in October 2010. A series of shots of Botox injected into the forehead and neck every three to six months can cut the number of migraines experienced by a chronic sufferer by upto 50 per cent. This happens because Botox paralyses certain muscles in the area. People who have taken Botox for migraine have reported that it reduces severity of accompanying symptoms like nausea and dizziness, too. Roughly 20 per cent of Indians suffer from migraine.


A celebrated pianist, Leon Fleisher (in pic), who had lost the use of his right hand to dystonia, a neurological disorder, was able to play the piano again after 35 years thanks to Botox. Fleisher had tried all available treatments but none helped. It was only when he took a Botox injection in the mid-1990 s that he felt his clenched fingers relax. He embarked on a concert tour last year. Incidentally, around the same time the FDA approved use of Botox for spasticity in the flexor muscles of the elbow wrist and fingers. Spasticity, which occurs due to stroke, brain injuries or neurological conditions, leads to stiffness, tightness and involuntary jerking of the muscles. Doctors have successfully unclenched first and relaxed large leg muscles and in a few cases also restored full muscle function with Botox.


Botox has been a life-changer for many patients suffering from cervical dystonia. The neurological disorder affects the muscles of the neck causing the head to be pulled either sideways, downwards or backwards. The patient experiences severe pain frequently. A series of Botox injections can decrease the severity of the abnormal head position and the pain, too.


Botox has come to the rescue of people who just can't control themselves and end up wetting their pants. Urinary incontinence is a common condition and affects many individuals, especially women. But for now, the FDA has approved the treatment only for people who have urinary incontinence due to neurological conditions like spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. Researchers have found that injecting Botox into various sites in the bladder, relaxes the organ and offers the patient more muscle control and less incontinence. Trials showed that patients who got Botox had a significant reduction in weekly incontinence episodes. The FDA claims one jab can help control incontinence for up to 10 months, but patients have to deal with side effects like urinary tract infection and urinary retention.


Do you hesitate to shake people's hand for fear of your sweaty palms? Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is a fairly common problem and many people experience profuse sweating of hands, feet, armpits and face. Fortunately, a few jabs of botox can dry up that awful sweat and liven up your appearance and social life. The toxin inhibits some of the nerves in the hand, foot or armpit that stimulate the sweat glands in the same way that it causes muscles to contract. This application of botox is considered quite safe - it helps more than 50 per cent of patients, claim doctors - and the FDA has approved its use for patients as young as 18 years. But doctors advocate the use of botox shots only if regular medication fails. A teenage girl in the US, who took botox injections for sweaty palms this June was cured of the problem, but ends up with a new one - her thumbs were frozen and she couldn't text her friends.

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