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Botulinum Toxin Can Treat Writer's Cramp

Despite hand weakness as a side effect, patients chose to stay with the treatment

THURSDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) is an effective treatment for writer's cramp and offers sustained relief despite some hand weakness, according to study findings published online Dec. 21 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Johannes D. Speelman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a study of 40 patients with writer's cramp who were randomized to receive two sessions of BoNT-A or placebo injections over the course of 12 weeks.

Of the 20 patients in the BoNT-A group, 14 chose to continue treatment and reported an improvement in their condition. Of the 19 patients who completed the trial in the placebo group, six elected to continue. Clinical rating scales were also used to assess the efficacy of the treatment and the results were heavily in favor of BoNT-A versus placebo.

Mild and transient hand weakness was the most commonly reported side effect. A year later, 20 patients were still enjoying benefits from continued treatment.

"Writer's cramp remains difficult to treat, but our results show that BoNT-A injections are safe and effective compared with placebo," the authors conclude. "The role of physical and supportive treatments is unclear. Further investigation of combination treatment seems a promising and challenging task."

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