Bladder Botox for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

From leg spasms to bladder spasms, Botox has the amazing ability to temporarily prevent muscle spasms; and is increasing people's quality of life in a big way. Read on to learn all the ways Botox can help people with spinal cord injuries.

Bladder Botox for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

There have been a lot of advancements when it comes to treating secondary complications of paralysis, and one of the most exciting in the last 15 years has been Botox.

While Botox was originally used to treat migraines and wrinkles, it has been embraced by the medical world for muscle spasticity.


Benefits of Botox Treatment for People with SCI

Prevent Muscle Spasms

One of the best reasons to get Botox if you have a spinal cord injury is that it can stop muscle spasticity in the legs, arms and other muscle groups in the body, like the "muscle" known as the bladder (the bladder is both a muscle and an organ).

Botox works within minutes and can be just as strong as leg/muscle spasticity drugs like baclofen. To treat leg spams, Botox is injected into the leg muscle groups directly.

For bladder spams, doctors must place the individual with the spinal cord injury under anesthesia before injecting Botox into the bladder wall to avoid causing pain and autonomic dysreflexia.

Improve Mental Health

Whether you're getting Botox to treat muscle spasticity or bladder spasticity, many people say the treatment has improved their quality of life on multiple fronts, having a huge impact on their mental health.

Sleep Longer

When getting Botox to treat spasticity, one of the biggest side effects that people notice is their sleep has improved. They are no longer woken up throughout the night by their legs flailing in bed.

Botox calms down these muscle groups so that they no longer clench repeatedly. Sleep is also improved because people wake up less often to drain their bladder. Many people with SCI need to wake up multiple times to cath at night.

Cath Less Often

Botox helps people catheterize less throughout a 24-hour period, which is a great thing for many people since it can be exhausting to catheterize a lot. Also, many people simply cannot afford to use so many catheters.

Reduce Leakage

Another secondary condition that many people experience after a spinal cord injury is bladder incontinence. This is typically treated with a drug called oxybutynin, which can severely limit bladder spasticity only and it can work quite well.

The only drawback is that it can cause a foggy mental state, which is causing many people to use Botox instead to treat bladder spasms.

Relieve Clonus

For some people with incomplete spinal cord injuries who can still walk, they will have a condition called clonus, which is an involuntary muscle contraction that can make it difficult to walk.

Clonus commonly affects the ankle and patella but can affect the upper body as well. A Botox injection directly into these muscle groups can help reduce the effects of clonus, allowing people to walk again with ease.

Potential Drawbacks

Risk of Muscle Atrophy

While Botox does greatly limit muscle spasms in the legs, there is one glaring side effect: muscle atrophy. The only beneficial side effect of having leg spasms is that it can help maintain the muscles in the legs, especially definition. Many people worry about muscle atrophy after a spinal cord injury and, unfortunately, Botox does not help in this department.

Minor Bleeding/Infection

When getting Botox in the bladder, there is a temporary side effect of minor bleeding that can occur. After getting the procedure done, you may see blood in your urine for a day or so after the procedure. This however is normal, but for some, it can cause a mild UT/and bladder infection.

Insurance May Not Pay

Despite the established effects of Botox that are well known in the medical community, there are still insurance plans that do not cover bladder Botox or Botox for other muscle groups. This can be frustrating for many people with spinal cord injuries since it can be expensive. The one good thing is that if you do pay for Botox out of pocket, it can last for 6 – 12 months at a time. This depends on how quickly your immune system "eats up" the Botox.

Can Wear Off Faster After Many Treatments

Just like any drug, the more you get Botox, the faster it will wear off. This is a catch-22 for many since the effects of Botox can be so life-changing that they're willing to risk this as a possibility.

Initial injections may provide relief for 6-9 months on average. Repeated injections often have a shorter duration of efficacy. The muscles can develop tolerance to the effects of Botox over multiple treatments.

After the 5th injection, the duration of efficacy may be decreased to around 3 months.

When it comes to your health, don't be afraid of trying something new. Many people with spinal cord injuries who've tried Botox say they wish they would've done it sooner and not have waited so long. Your quality of life deserves it.


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