Botox for Spastcity- for GPs

Northern Beaches Neurology banner 9
7th January 2020

Botulinum toxin (e.g. Botox ©, Dysport ©) has been used to help manage spasticity for a number of years. Patient function can significantly improve when focal spasticity is managed, and botulinum toxin is an effective treatment of focal spasticity that does not involve the systemic side effects produced by oral anti-spasticity agents. 

The MBS and PBS recently reviewed the subsidised indications of botulinum toxin in spasticity to improve patient access to this excellent treatment. There have been a number of restrictions lifted and the following are now eligible for subsidised botulinum toxin treatment:

  1. Patients with cerebral palsy can now be treated with botulinum toxin even if the first treatment did not start under the age of 18.
  2. Patients with spasticity related to any acute neurological event (and not just stroke).
  3. Lower limb spasticity caused by stroke or another neurological event

Below are the current subsidised indications for the use of botulinum toxin in spasticity (bold are new items):

Lower limb Spasticity of the lower limb following an acute

Lower limb Spasticity of the lower limb following an acute
event and who have previously received non-PBS
subsidised treatment  

equinovarus foot deformity
Treatment of dynamic foot deformity due to spasticity in an ambulant cerebral palsy patient > 18 years of age
Upper limb Moderate to severe upper limb spastcity due to
cerebral palsy in a patient over 18 years of age  
Upper limbTreatment of moderate to severe spasticity of the
upper limb following a stroke  
Lower limbTreatment of dynamic equinovarus deformity in a
patient with cerebral palsy at least 2 years of age  
Upper limbTreatment of moderate to severe upper limb spasticity due to cerebral palsy in a patient at least 2 years of age  

Presently the restriction on the number of treatments for post-stroke upper limb spasticity remains but it is likely that this restriction will be lifted at the end of 2019 or very early 2020.

As a practical guide we suggest the following clinical scenarios where treatment with botulinum toxin may help your patients with spasticity. Please speak with one of our neurologists if you would like to discuss any specific case and whether there would be a role for botulinum toxin treatment.

Upper limb without residual function

1) To prevent contractures thereby reducing pain and increasing limb mobility (such as treatment of  biceps spasticity).

2) To improve patient care for example treating pectoral spasticity to facilitate dressing.

3) To improve hand hygiene. For example patients with severe finger flexion spasticity causing a permanent fist often experience damp and macerated skin on the palm which is very difficult to clean. This can be improved or resolved with botulinum toxin to finger flexor muscles.

Upper limb with residual function

1) To modify the balance of muscle activity/overactivty thereby to improve functional movements. An example is a patient who needs to wear gloves for work. Treatment of finger flexion spasticity can improve a patient’s ability to put the gloves on.

2) To prevent contractures as above.

Lower limb
1) To prevent contractures as above. For example to prevent Achilles’ tendon of hamstring shortening which will adversely impact on mobility.

2) To reduce falls caused by foot scuffing in patients with spastic equinovarus deformity.

3) To reduce pain from muscle overactivity such as a striatal toe.

4) To improve gait dynamics, for example treatment of adductor spasticity causing scissoring gait. 

The neurologists at Northern Beaches Neurology use combinations of EMG, ultrasound and needle stimulation to guide accurate botulinum toxin injections.

Please contact us on 9982 2270 to discuss your patient’s needs with one of our neurologists.

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