Baclofen in the Treatment of Dystonia

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Abstract

Summary

Dystonia refers to involuntary, prolonged muscle contractions leading to sustained, often twisting, postures. High dose anticholinergic therapy for childhood onset dystonia, botulinum toxin injections for focal dystonia, and levodopa for diurnal dystonia provide symptomatic relief for some patients. Despite this, treatment of both idiopathic and secondary dystonia remains inadequate for many patients. Baclofen, a pre-synaptic acting GABA agonist, has been reported to benefit dystonia in a number of retrospective studies. Dramatic improvement in symptoms, especially in gait, was found in almost 30% of 31 children and adolescents with idiopathic dystonia in one retrospective study using doses ranging from 40 to 180 mg daily. The response to baclofen of adults with focal dystonia is less dramatic. One series of 60 adults with cranial dystonia found sustained benefit in 18%. Smaller series have not consistently found significant benefit in adults. Baclofen has been used to treat several secondary dystonias: tardive dystonia has occasionally been reported to improve and there are isolated reports of improvement in dystonia occurring in Parkinson's disease and in glutaric aciduria.

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