A new study indicates that botulinum toxin may assist in preventing shaking or tremors in the arms and hands of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The study’s findings are key, according to study author Anneke van der Walt, MD, consultant neurologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and research fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia. “Treatments in use for tremor in MS are not sufficiently effective and new alternatives are needed,” van der Walt explains.
A recent news release reports that the study encompassed 23 MS patients. Study participants were administered botulinum toxin type A injections or saline placebo over a 3-month duration. Next, researchers say participants received the opposite treatment for the next 3 months. During the study, researchers reportedly measured the tremor severity and participants’ ability to write and draw both during and after receiving treatment. The release notes that video assessments were also conducted every 6 weeks for 6 months.
The results suggest that study participants treated with the botulinum toxin exhibited significant improvement in tremor severity, writing and drawing at 6 weeks and 3 months compared to results following the placebo treatment. Researchers add that in regard to tremor severity, participants improved an average of two points on a 10-point scale. The writing and drawing of participants also improved by an average of one point on a 10-point scale, researchers say.
van der Walt rearticulates the study’s findings, noting that, “Our study suggests a new approach to arm tremor related to MS where there are currently major treatment challenges and it also sets the framework for larger studies.”
The release reports that during the study, 42% of participants developed muscle weakness following the botulinum toxin compared to 6% following treatment with the placebo. Researchers say the weakness was generally mild and disappeared within two weeks.
The study appears in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).