Phoenix Children’s Hospital is the only location in Arizona offering the full array of targeted injections such as botulinum and phenol. These treatments ease muscle stiffness related to movement disorders arising from cerebral palsy, stroke or other conditions involving the brain and spinal cord.

Spasticity occurs when a child’s brain doesn’t send appropriate signals to muscles, causing them to become extremely tight or stiff. Treatment options at Phoenix Children’s include the latest medical approaches to managing movement disorders, and preventing potential complications as kids grow and develop.

Therapeutic Approaches

Botulinum toxins are purified proteins that can block signals arriving at the muscle to reduce excessive contraction. Phenol is an alcohol that can block or reduce the signals traveling through the nerve as it enters the muscle.

These treatments have the potential to:

  • Improve a child’s comfort and quality of life
  • Enhance a child’s ability to move and function 
  • Lower the risk of limb deformities and other growth disorders

Botulinum toxin and phenol can help slow the transmission between nerves and muscle in the specific area where they are injected. This relaxes the muscle with effects that typically last for several months.


Evaluation Process

Your doctor and practitioners will discuss whether injection treatments are appropriate and approved for your child. Before treatment, children are evaluated by the doctor who administers the injections.

Depending on your child’s condition, evaluation may include other pediatric movement disorder specialists, such an orthopedic surgeon, a physical and rehabilitative medicine specialist, or a neurologist. For more complex conditions, all of these specialists may participate in an evaluation and consultation visit at our multidisciplinary Complex Cerebral Palsy & Tone Management Clinic so they can assist in developing a customized and coordinated care plan.

What to Expect

Doctors typically administer botulinum toxin and phenol – known as chemo-denervation treatments – during a short procedure. Your family will have the option of performing the procedure awake or asleep.

The doctor inserts a needle into affected muscles. An electrical stimulator attached to the needle helps deliver the medicine precisely where it’s needed with pinpoint accuracy.

The procedure typically takes 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how many muscles are treated. If the procedure is performed with your child asleep, you will be reunited with your child as he or she begins waking up in the recovery area.

Children feel little or no discomfort after the procedure and can immediately return to normal activities. It takes several days for the medicine to take effect, reaching peak effect at approximately two weeks.

The medication wears off gradually over three to four months, though some children can have a longer-lasting response. Injections can be repeated as often as every three months. Doctors will d