Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Spasticity is when your muscles tighten without control.
Contraction of the Hand
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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:
Stiffness that can make fine movements hard
Lack of muscle strength
A hard time using the muscles needed to move or communicate
Movements you can’t control
Problems doing daily tasks
Over time, spasticity can cause:
Misshapen bones, spine, joints, and muscles
Poor muscle growth in children
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:
Electromyography/nerve conduction study
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. This may mean:
Easing muscle spasms
Finding ways for you to move and take care of yourself
Helping you grasp, move, and let go of objects
Enabling normal muscle growth in children
Trying to stop you from having problems like deformities,
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:
Exercises to make the muscles strong and flexible
Short-term braces or other tools to support you
Moving the body parts to increase range of motion
Making your coordination better or learning new ways to do daily tasks
Medicines may be needed if you can’t complete daily tasks. You may need:
Medicines taken by mouth
An implanted pump to put medicine into the spine
Botulinum toxin injection
—may relax muscles for a few months at a time
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
https://www.christopherreeve.org CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation
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Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 6/19/2018