Spasticity is a common and debilitating symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). Current treatments are effective, but may be difficult to tolerate for many patients.
To determine if levetiracetam, a second-generation antiepileptic drug, may be useful for the treatment of spasticity in MS.
A retrospective medical record review of patients attending the Multiple Sclerosis Program at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas was performed. A series of 12 patients who had been treated with levetiracetam for spasticity was identified. Most of the patients were female (10/11), and the mean age was 41.0 years. The main outcome measure was a change in Penn spasm score or modified Ashworth score. Both scores are measured on a scale of 0 to 4.
The Penn Spasm score (a measure of phasic spasticity) was decreased for all patients following treatment with levetiracetam. The mean ± SD Penn Spasm score was 2.7 ± 0.65 at baseline and decreased to 0.9 ± 0.29 at follow-up. There was no change in modified Ashworth scores (a measure of tonic spasticity). Five patients reported adverse events; 1 patient discontinued treatment owing to an adverse event (edema). Three patients incidentally reported improvements in neuropathic pain.
Levetiracetam was effective for reducing phasic spasticity but not tonic spasticity in this 12-patient case series. The drug was well tolerated and therefore shows promise as a treatment for phasic spasticity. Large, well-controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.