Although Botox is most known for smoothing forehead lines, crow’s feet and smile creases, physicians at the East Falls Clinic use the prescription medication to bring relief to people who suffer from chronic migraines and an extreme form of muscle stiffness called spasticity.

Spasticity occurs as muscles contract abnormally for a prolonged time; and it’s often linked with damage to the brain, spinal cord or motor nerves. For example, when individuals suffer from neurological conditions such as a stroke, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis, their muscles can remain in a painful state of spasticity.

“I frequently treat patients after a stroke whose arms or hands experience spasticity. I feel for these patients because in addition to causing pain, spasticity often inhibits daily life – interfering with basic hygiene or simple tasks like getting dressed,” said Dr. Tyler Hedin, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation at East Falls Sport and Spine.

To relax spastic muscles, highly trained physicians can inject Botox into the constricted muscles, providing a targeted treatment option that lasts approximately 3 months.

“Oral medications go through the bloodstream to the entire body, so they can’t access specific muscles. Botox tends to be successful because we inject directly into the areas that need to relax, which then provides more function and less pain for the patient,” Dr. Hedin said.

Dr. Hedin reported that he recently treated a woman in her 50s who, after suffering a stroke, had difficulty walking due to spasticity in her ankle.

“She constantly walked on her toes because she couldn’t relax her ankle, and it truly limited her ability to get around. I injected Botox into her calf muscles, and she loosened her right up,” Dr. Hedin said. “The treatment greatly impacted her life. She could walk further distances and without pain.”

Once the woman’s muscles loosened, Dr. Hedin recommended physical therapy for further stretching and a brace to maintain the ankle’s extended positioning.

“Botox for spasticity is quite effective, but that’s not where treatment ends. The next steps can include splinting or bracing – especially at night since that’s when people’s muscles tend to curl and tense up again. Plus, patients usually work closely with physical therapists or occupational therapists who develop stretching programs that patients can continue at home,” Dr. Hedin said.

Dr. Hedin also uses Botox to medically treat hindering, chronic migraines.

People who experience debilitating migraines for 15 or more days each month may benefit from Botox in multiple muscles around the head and neck. The treatment aims to prevent migraines before they start.

“The more migraines a person has, the more tense those muscle groups around the neck and temples can become. Research shows that Botox can increase the number of migraine-free days each month – which is a big deal for people who fight these severe, reoccurring headaches. I have several patients who see me two to three times each year to have those injections because it significantly benefits their headaches and quality of life,” Dr. Hedin said.

Taking a whole-body approach to healthcare.

While Botox offers significant benefits for specific conditions, Dr. Hedin uses a variety of approaches in his practice to personalize each person’s care to best meet individual needs. He treats a variety of conditions as he cares for people with backs and neck pain, joint pain, sports injuries, concussions and more. In fact, that’s one of his favorite aspects of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“We look at the whole body and how muscles and joints all work in tandem,” Dr. Hedin said. “Our goal is to get patients back to activities they love and in a daily routine they want to be in. It’s more of a whole-body approach than a focus on a specific organ or system of the body. I really enjoy working in this field because it’s rewarding to see our patients get better and get back to life.”

To set an appointment with Dr. Hedin, call (208) 535-4400 or visit the East Falls Clinics website