Differences in active range of motion measurements in the upper extremity of patients with writer's cramp compared with healthy controls

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Abstract

Study Design:

Exploratory case-control study.

Introduction:

Writer's cramp (WC) is a type of focal hand dystonia. The central nervous system plays a role in its pathophysiology, but abnormalities in the affected musculoskeletal components may also be relevant.

Purpose of the Study:

We compared the active range of motion (ROM) in patients with WC and healthy volunteers (HVs) and correlated the findings with disease duration and severity.

Methods:

Affected limb joints were measured with goniometers. Patients were assessed at least 3 months after their last botulinum toxin (botulinum neurotoxin) injection, and strength was clinically normal. t tests were used to compare the ROMs of WC with matched HVs. The Spearman correlation coefficient assessed the relationship of active ROMs to the disease duration and handwriting subscore of the Dystonia Disability Scale.

Results:

ROMs of D1 metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint extension as well as D2 and D5 MCP flexion were significantly smaller in WC, and distal interphalangeal joint extension in D3 and D5 was significantly greater compared with HVs. There were negative correlations between D2 MCP flexion and disease duration and with Dystonia Disability Scale.

Discussion:

Abnormalities in ROMs in WC were found. Severity and disease duration correlated with reduced D2 MCP flexion. This may be related to intrinsic biomechanical abnormalities, co-contraction of muscles, or a combination of subclinical weakness and atrophy from repeated botulinum neurotoxin injections.

Conclusions:

Hand biomechanical properties should not be ignored in the pathophysiology of WC.

Level of Evidence:

2c.

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