September 1, 2006

Musician’s cramp may run in families

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Musician's cramp, and other
so-called focal task-specific dystonias, are typically thought
of as sporadic or occupational conditions. Now, researchers in
the US and Germany have identified three families with these
disorders, suggesting that the disorders may be inherited.

Dr. Christine Klein, a neurologist at the University of
Lubeck, Germany, and her team identified three patients who
played the piano or the guitar, and were diagnosed with
musician's dystonia -- a potentially career-ending problem
marked by muscle spasms in the hands or fingers that occur when
they attempt to play their instruments.

Klein and colleagues subsequently learned that these three
patients had family members who also suffered from focal
task-specific dystonias.

According to the team, each "index" patient had two or
three first-degree relatives with other forms of focal
task-specific dystonia.

Six had writer's cramp and one had handicraft dystonia
manifested when threading a needle. Half of the subjects
reported that increased practice seemed to trigger the

"Our results suggest a genetic contribution to focal
task-specific dystonia," the team concludes. As more cases of
familial focal task-specific dystonia are identified, genomic
analysis may help identify the genes that are involved, they

SOURCE: Neurology August 22, 2006.