Dec. 21, 2006 -- Chalk up another novel use for Botox. The toxin best known for erasing wrinkles may also help ease the pain of writer's cramp.
A small, new study shows injections of Botox improved symptoms of writer's cramp in 70% of those who received the treatment.
Writer's cramp is a painful condition that affects about three to seven out of every 100,000 people. Symptoms include involuntary, spasmodic muscle contractions of the fingers, hand, or arm during writing or other manual tasks.
People with writer's cramp may simply learn to write with the other hand, but in one in four cases, the condition can affect both hands and is difficult to treat.
Treatment options for writer's cramp include relaxation techniques, hypnosis, biofeedback, acupuncture, and “writing re-education" exercises.
Botox is a toxin that in large amounts can cause botulism. An injection of Botox blocks signals from nerves to muscles.
New Chapter in Writer's Cramp Treatment
In the study, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 39 people with writer's cramp received either two sessions (one month apart) of injections of Botox in finger and wrist muscles or a placebo injection.
The results showed that 14 of the 20 people given Botox said their writer's cramp had significantly improved and they wanted to continue their treatment compared with six out of the 19 who received the placebo.
About 50% of participants still reported good results with treatment after one year.
Side effects of Botox injections included hand weakness, which caused some participants to discontinue treatment, and pain at the injection site.
Researchers J.J.M. Kruisdijk and colleagues at the University of Amsterdam say the results suggest Botox merits more study as a potential treatment for writer's cramp.