Limb contractures in levodopa-responsive parkinsonism: a clinical and investigational study of seven new cases.
Hu MT., Bland J., Clough C., Ellis CM., Chaudhuri KR.
We describe six patients with classical levodopa-responsive Parkinson's disease (PD) and one case of levodopa-responsive familial juvenile dystonia-parkinsonism with fixed contractures of the hands, feet or legs. In most patients contractures became established over a short period (2 months-2 years) but a considerable time after onset of parkinsonism (mean 13 years). Mean disease duration was 17 years, and all patients had severe levodopa-induced dyskinesias, either biphasic or peak dose, in the affected limb prior to onset of the contracture. Nerve conduction studies excluded peripheral ulnar nerve lesions in all patients with one exception, who was found to have a mild bilateral ulnar entrapment neuropathy. Transcranial magnetic stimulation performed in five of the seven patients showed shorter mean central motor conduction time in the affected than in the unaffected limb. Results of magnetic resonance imaging of the brain performed in a subgroup of patients were normal, with no evidence to suggest multiple system atrophy, cerebral infarction or focal abnormalities of the basal ganglia. We conclude that hand and feet contractures are not necessarily restricted to parkinson plus syndromes and may complicate otherwise typical PD in the absence of a structural or peripheral nervous cause. Striatal dopaminergic deficiency, particularly long-standing, may have a role in the pathogenesis of limb contractures in PD.