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Spasticity is when your muscles tighten without control.
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Signals travel from the brain through the spinal cord. They control the amount of tension in a muscle. Injury to the brain or spine disturbs the signals. This causes spasticity.
Your risk is higher if you have damage to the brain or spine. This may be from:
Your symptoms may range from tightness to strong spasms.
You may also have:
Over time, spasticity can cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look at how you move. These things can result in diagnosis.
You may need more testing, such as:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. This may mean:
Here are some things that may help:
Physical and occupational therapy will ease pain by lessening the tension in the muscle. It may use gentle stretches, cold packs, or electrical stimulation.
It will also help to make the muscle work better. This may mean:
Medicines may be needed if you can’t complete daily tasks. You may need:
In recent years, some states have approved marijuana for certain health problems. Some studies support using it for spasticity. Talk to your doctor about whether it is right for you. Find out whether it is a legal option where you live.
Surgery can help a small number of people. It may be used for severe spasticity.
The nerve that sends sensory messages from the muscles to the spine will be cut. It may help reduce the strength of muscle stiffness and spasm.
Spasticity can’t be prevented.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation
Kaku M, Simpson DM. Spotlight on botulinum toxin and its potential in the treatment of stroke related spasticity. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2016:10:1085-99.
Spasticity. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Spasticity.aspx. Accessed June 19, 2018.
Spasticity. American Stroke Association. Available at: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/LifeAfterStroke/RegainingIndependence/PhysicalChallenges/Spasticity_UCM_309770_Article.jsp#.VzOadU2FPIU. Updated May 31, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2018.
Spasticity. Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website. Available at: https://www.christopherreeve.org/living-with-paralysis/health/secondary-conditions/spasticity. Accessed June 19, 2019.
Spasticity. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Spasticity. Accessed June 19, 2019.
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Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 6/19/2018