All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for February 2004

Attacking Multiple Sclerosis

February 20, 2004
Ivanhoe Newswire

Spasticity is a condition in which muscles cramp so badly that a person can't even walk. It is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but that may be changing. Here's promising research that gets some MS patients back on their feet.

Kim Pullin enjoys visits to the park with her daughter. Not long ago, multiple sclerosis would have made this trip impossible. "The spasms appeared in my arm, in my leg, in my hands. I absolutely could not walk on my leg," she tells Ivanhoe.

Pullin's neurologist Kathleen Hawker, M.D., gave her levetiracetam -- a drug used to control epileptic seizures. "I was noticing that some patients were using it for pain, and I also noticed their stiffness, cramps and spasms were also improving," says Dr. Hawker, of UT Southwestern in Dallas.

Dr. Hawker says she was surprised the drug helped all 11 MS patients in the study. "The nice thing about the drug is it's very safe. It doesn't have effects on the liver, blood or kidneys," she says. "It also has much less side effects than older drugs."

That wasn't the only benefit. Dr. Hawker says, "We could use one medication for pain, for their spasticity, rather than using two drugs, which can impact their functioning as well."

Pullin says, "What it had enabled me to do is not have to put off our activities but be able to really continue to play with her and not have to stop doing what it is that she and I love doing together." She is off the drug now, but says she will gladly take it again if her spasms return.

The study showed a few patients had mild side effects, including nausea and dizziness. Dr. Hawker has plans to do a larger, more detailed study to learn more about the benefits to ms patients.

Copyright © 2004, Ivanhoe Newswire