Nabiximols and botulinum toxin injections for patients with multiple sclerosis: efficacy on spasticity and spasms in a single-centre experience

Neurol Sci. 2021 Mar 19. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05182-6. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Spasticity is a common and disabling symptom in patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMS): as highlighted by many epidemiological studies, it is often a severe and not well treated. Despite the availability of evidence-based spasticity management guidelines, there is still great variability in everyday therapeutic approach, especially for the most complex cases.

Methods: In our single-centre study, we retrospectively evaluated PwMS-treated nabiximols and botulinum toxin injections (BTI) from July 2015 to April 2019. Clinical and demographic data were collected. The severity of spasticity and spasms was recorded by modified Ashworth Scale (mAS) and Penn Spasm Frequency Scale (PSFS) at baseline and after 1 month of treatment.

Results: We evaluated 64 treatments for MS-related spasticity: 28 patients were treated with BTI and 36 patients with nabiximols. We found that both BTI and nabiximols are effective in reducing mAS (nabiximols, BTI: p < 0.001), PSFS frequency (nabiximols: p = 0.001, BTI: p = 0.008) and intensity (nabiximols: p = 0.001, BTI p = 0.016). No differences were found when directly comparing the efficacy of the two treatments, except for a statistical trend favouring BTI on spasms intensity (p = 0.091). Eleven patients were treated with both BTI and nabiximols, and only four patients continued both treatments. All dropouts were due to inefficacy of at least one of the two therapies.

Conclusions: Our single-centre experience highlights that both BTI and nabiximols are effective in treating multiple sclerosis-related spasticity; however, BTI treatment may be more effective on spasms intensity. Combined nabiximols and BTI treatment could represent a therapeutic option for severe spasticity.

Keywords: Botulinum toxin; Multiple sclerosis; Nabiximols; Spasms; Spasticity.