Last Updated: 2007-07-27 10:37:20 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Structural abnormalities in the cerebellum and the sensorimotor circuit are found in patients with writer’s cramp, according to a report in the July 24th issue of Neurology.

"It’s not clear whether these abnormalities are a cause or a result of the disease," senior author Dr. Stephane Lehericy, from Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, said in a statement. "The fact that the brain abnormalities are in the areas that control the affected hand suggests that these differences are specific to this problem."

Still, it is possible that the sustained repetitive movement associated with writer’s cramp led to the changes in brain structure, Dr. Lehericy noted.

Previous research has identified abnormalities in the primary sensorimotor areas of patients with writer’s cramp. However, findings with other primary dystonias, such as cervical dystonia and blepharospasm, suggest that other brain abnormalities may also be present.

To investigate, the research team used voxel-based morphometry of magnetic resonance images to compare the brain structures of 30 right-handed patients with writer’s cramp and 30 healthy matched controls.

Compared with controls, writer’s cramp patients showed a significant reduction in gray matter in the cerebellum, bilateral thalamus, and in the hand area of the left primary sensorimotor cortex.

Further research is needed to determine if the abnormalities identified in the current study are specific to writer’s cramp or may also be seen with other focal dystonias, the researchers conclude.

Neurology 2007;69:376-380.

Copyright Reuters 2007. Click for Restrictions