A new treatment may bring hope for people who suffer from muscle cramps or spasms that keep them from sleeping. The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015.
Study author Dr. Rod MacKinnon, Nobel laureate and co-founder of Flex Pharma said, "We estimate that approximately four million US adults over the age of 65 suffer daily from nocturnal leg cramps, a condition for which there is significant unmet need since there are no approved treatments. These leg cramps can cause distress, interrupted sleep, reduced quality of life and interference with activities of daily living."
The treatment is based on research showing that muscle cramps are caused by excessive firing of neurons in the spinal cord that control muscle contraction. This new treatment is designed to stop the firing of the neurons by stimulating the transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels.
During the study, researchers used an electrical neurostimulator to induce muscle cramps in the feet of 37 healthy people. Half of the participants received the treatment while half received a placebo. Later both groups received the other treatment. It was seen that when participants received the treatment, which was taken by mouth, their cramps were three times less intense than when they received the placebo. The treatment took effect within minutes and lasted up to 6-8 hours.
MacKinnon said, "These results support our belief that this treatment has significant potential as a solution for people suffering from muscle cramping and possibly spasms from a broad range of neuromuscular disorders, nighttime leg cramps, multiple sclerosis, spinal spasticity and cervical dystonia. Cramps can impact even the world's fittest athletes at critical times."