Helping Seniors Live Healthier Lives

Could Botox Help Control Your Spastic Movements After A Stroke?

If you've recently suffered a mild stroke, you may still be working to regain lost ground and, perhaps, wondering whether you'll ever feel like your old self again. While physical therapy can help you build strength and coordination, it may not be enough to control the jerking or shaking movements you experience while trying to perform activities that require more fine motor skills than standing, walking, or reaching. In some cases, Botox may be able to help control these movements and accelerate your recovery. Read on to learn more about how Botox injections can be used to treat spasticity after a stroke.

How is Botox used after a stroke?

Botox is generally associated with wrinkle prevention, as it acts by paralyzing the tiny nerves nearest the surface of the skin to reduce the appearance and formation of fine lines and creases. However, its use as an aid in temporary paralysis can go much farther than the cosmetic context, with Botox injections showing success in the treatment of everything from migraine headaches to hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and certain types of chronic pain. 

In the stroke recovery context, Botox injections can be a useful way to control the spastic movements and stiffness you may experience when trying to do fine work (like writing, typing, or sewing) or lifting small but heavy objects like water glasses. By paralyzing the nerves that are misfiring and causing these uncontrolled movements, these injections can help you gain greater control over your actions and improve your progression at physical therapy.

In cases of stroke-related muscle stiffness, Botox injections can actually block the chemicals (like lactic acid) that are constricting your muscles and making them harder to move. You'll likely notice an improvement fairly quickly after your first injection, although the full effects may not be realized for another week or two.

Is this treatment right for you?

Before embarking on a treatment path that includes Botox injections, you'll want to go over your medical history with your doctor to ensure this is a healthy alternative to your other treatment options. However, Botox tends to have fewer side effects than many of the other medications commonly used to treat stiffness and tremors after a stroke, so in many cases, adding Botox to your physical therapy regimen can help you accelerate your physical and emotional recovery and begin feeling like yourself again much sooner than you may have expected.