Botox jab could give some relief from tremors caused by MS (multiple sclerosis), revealed a new study. Botulinum toxin has already gained fame for smoothing skin that works by blocking nerve signals and relaxing muscles under the skin. Botox is already approved to treat condition such as chronic migraine, excessive sweating and certain symptoms of MS.
Muscle weakness is a potential worry in MS patients, since that problem often comes with the disease itself. The new study tested the effects of Botulinum toxin on MS-related arm tremors that affect up to two-third of MS patients. A team led by Dr Anneke van der Walt, a neurologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia conducted a study including twenty-three MS patients.
All study participants suffered from mild to moderate arm tremors. Each patient was given a round of Botox jabs and a round of saline jabs, at a distance of three months. The team found that when MS patients were given Botox injections, the treatment eased their tremors typically and improved their ability to write.
On an average tremor scores of the patients had gone from five to three within six weeks of Botox treatment that essentially means moving from moderate to mild. In comparison there found no improvements after the placebo injections. There are several questions that need to be answered by doing larger and longer-term studies, stated Dr van der Walt.
One is how long the benefits of repeat Botox injections might last. The present study tested the effects of just one Botox treatment over three months. In person, the injections would have to be repeated every few months or possibly every six months for some people. Another question is whether the side effects change over time.
Muscle weakness was the most common side effect in this study. It affected about forty-two percent of the study patients, though it went away within two weeks. Exploring new treatments is important, and it is heartening to see there is some promise here, explained Nicholas G. LaRocca, vice-president of healthcare delivery and policy research at the National MS Society.
He added this study is fairly preliminary, and it had a small number of patients. Larger studies, of more-diverse groups of MS patients, are needed. If Botox is eventually approved for this MS symptom, it will be important for doctors to get training in how to give the injections since the drug has to go into carefully chosen locations in the muscle.
The study was published in the journal Neurology.