Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Janet St. James
A new way to treat a painful symptom of multiple sclerosis is helping some patients get back on their feet.
Not long ago, MS would have made a trip to the park impossible for Kim Pullin. "The spasms appeared in my arm, in my leg, in my hands," she said. "I absolutely could not walk on my leg."
Then, Pullin was given 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," said Dr. Kathleen Hawker, a neurologist at the UT Southwestern Multiple Sclerosis Center and Clinical Program in Dallas.
Dr. Hawker said she was surprised the drug helped all 11 MS patients in the study. "The nice thing about the drug is, it's very safe," she said. "It doesn't have effects on the liver, blood or kidneys. It also has much less side effects than older drugs."
"What it had enabled me to do is not have to put off our activities," Pullin said, adding that it lets her enjoy life with her daughter.
Pullin is off the drug now, but says she would gladly take it again if the spasms return.
A few patients had mild side effects from levetiracetam. Medical researchers are planning a larger, more detailed study.
For more information about this treatment, contact the UT Southwestern
Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at 214-648-9030.
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