Medications that can lessen the tightness of muscles may be used to improve functional abilities, treat pain and manage complications related to spasticity or other cerebral palsy symptoms.

It's important to talk about drug treatment risks with your doctor and discuss whether medical treatment is appropriate for your child's needs.

Medication selection depends on whether the problem affects only certain muscles (isolated) or the whole body (generalized). Drug treatments may include the following:

 

Isolated Spasticity

When spasticity is isolated to one muscle group, your doctor may recommend onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections directly into the muscle, nerve or both. Botox injections may help to improve drooling.

Your child will need injections about every three months.

Side effects may include pain, mild flu-like symptoms, bruising or severe weakness. Other more-serious side effects include difficulty breathing and swallowing.

 

Generalized Spasticity

If the whole body is affected, oral muscle relaxants may relax stiff, contracted muscles. These drugs include diazepam (Valium), dantrolene (Dantrium) and baclofen (Gablofen).

Diazepam carries some dependency risk, so it's not recommended for long-term use. Its side effects include drowsiness, weakness and drooling.

Dantrolene side effects include sleepiness, weakness, nausea and diarrhea.

Baclofen side effects include sleepiness, confusion and nausea. Note that baclofen may also be pumped directly into the spinal cord with a tube. The pump is surgically implanted under the skin of the abdomen.

Your child also may be prescribed medications to reduce drooling. Medications such as trihexyphenidyl, scopolamine or glycopyrrolate (Robinul, Robinul Forte) may be helpful, as can Botox injection into the salivary glands.