Shakespeare DT, Boggild M, Young C
A substantive amendment to this systematic review was last made on 17 August 2000. Cochrane reviews are regularly checked and updated if necessary.
Background: Spasticity is a common problem in MS patients causing pain, spasms, loss of function and difficulties in nursing care. A variety of oral and parenteral medications are available.
Objectives: To assess the absolute and comparative efficacy and tolerability of anti-spasticity agents in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
Search strategy: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of anti-spasticity agents were identified using MEDLINE, EMBASE, bibliographies of relevant articles, personal communication, manual searches of relevant journals and information from drug companies.
Selection criteria: Double-blind, randomised controlled trials (either placebo-controlled or comparative studies) of at least seven days duration.
Data collection and analysis: Two independent reviewers extracted data and the findings of the trials were summarised. Missing data were collected by correspondence with principal investigators. A meta-analysis was not performed due to the inadequacy of outcome measures and methodological problems with the studies reviewed.
Main results: Twenty-three placebo-controlled studies (using baclofen, dantrolene, tizanidine, botulinum toxin, vigabatrin, prazepam and threonine) and thirteen comparative studies met the selection criteria. Only thirteen of these studies used the Ashworth scale, of which only three of the six placebo-controlled trials and none of the seven comparative studies showed a statistically significant difference between test drugs. Spasms, other symptoms and overall impressions were only assessed using unvalidated scores and results of functional assessments were inconclusive.
Reviewers' conclusions: The absolute and comparative efficacy and tolerability of anti-spasticity agents in multiple sclerosis is poorly documented and no recommendations can be made to guide prescribing. The rationale for treating features of the upper motor neurone syndrome must be better understood and sensitive, validated spasticity measures need to be developed.
Citation: Shakespeare DT, Boggild M, Young C. Anti-spasticity agents for multiple sclerosis (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, 1, 2001. Oxford: Update Software.