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What is Chemodenervation?

Chemodenervation is a type of treatment that stops unwanted or overactive sensations and movements. A very small dose of strong chemicals is injected into the affected nerve or muscle, blocking movement and pain in a small and specific area. Chemodenervation may use substances such as phenol or alcohol, but the most well-known agent is botulinum toxin, commonly in the form of Botox. Originally approved to treat wrinkles, Botox is now used to treat a wide variety of disorders.

Chemodenervation can be used to treat many different disorders that cause pain or unwanted movement. Some of these include:

  • Spasticity, or tight, stiff muscle movement
  • Cerebral palsy, which can cause exaggerated or uncontrolled movement
  • Dystonia, or cramping and involuntary motions
  • Migraine
  • Overactive bladder
  • Some kinds of chronic pain, including sciatica
  • Certain voice disorders
  • Excess salivation

Depending on the area being treated, a chemodenervation session may take only a few minutes or as long as an hour. In some cases, an ultrasound will be used to guide the injection to exactly the right spot. Although results may be felt immediately, it may take 5 to 7 days for full effect. Results usually last several months.