Botulinum toxin injections
Botulinum toxin is a purified protein that is extracted from bacteria under controlled laboratory conditions. The brands available are Botox®, Dysport® and Xeomin®. Injection of botulinum toxin into the affected muscles of the neck is a common medical procedure to treat cervical dystonia. There are many important anatomical structures around the neck, so ultrasound is used to better visualise and guide the injections.
Once injected the medication blocks the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, from the nerve which then allows muscle fibres to gradually relax. It takes 1-2 weeks for this change to commence. The medication remains active for at least 3 months and repeat injections are usually required for ongoing clinical benefit.
Botulinum toxin is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the treatment of cervical dystonia. This means it can be accessed at little or no cost to the patient.