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Tremor in MS is Often Poorly Treated

June 16, 2016

An estimated amount of 25 to 58 percent of MS patients will experience tremor, it’s often underreported and poorly treated as stated by surveys. This ultimately highlights a large need for symptomatic treatments.

Survey data was collected from 567 enrollees in the North American Research Committee on the Multiple Sclerosis Registry by William Meador, MD and his colleagues from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 508 of these responses were included in the analysis and around 47 percent of the cohort reported taking medication in order to reduce the severity of their tremor while only 12 participants reported having some kind of surgical intervention.

20 participants reported that the medication they were taking had worsened their tremor and 11 of those reported a symptomatic benefit from a different medication. Those using symptomatic medication experienced worse tremor severity, rates of disability and unemployment were also higher in this population.

64.7 percent reported using one medication, while 23.5 percent used two kinds of drugs and 11.8 percent used three or more drugs. Around 50 percent used anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines (46.2 percent), these are the kinds of drugs used most often to treat tremor. Others also reported using antispasmodics (14.7 percent) and 12.6 percent reported using cannabinoids.

Of these drugs, those who used benzodiazepines, clonazepam was reported to be the most beneficial and gabapentin was the most beneficial drug among those who used anticonvulsant. Although, in the end, those that were used to treat essential tremor were rarely cited as beneficial.

While there is clearly an unmet need for treatment in this area, research suggests that “treatments that alleviate other symptoms common to MS, such as anxiety, spasticity and pain, may also provide an avenue to better understanding and treating this most disabling and difficult-to-treat symptom.”