Spasticity

Overview

Spasticity is a muscle control disorder characterized by tight or stiff muscles and an inability to control muscle movement. It may cause hyperactive reflexes, which are abnormally strong and persist for too long.

Symptoms

Symptoms of spasticity may include:
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Involuntary movements, including spasms (brisk and/or sustained involuntary muscle contraction) and clonus (series of fast, involuntary contractions)
  • Pain
  • Decreased functional abilities and delayed motor development
  • Difficulty with care and hygiene
  • Abnormal posture
  • Contractures (permanent contraction of the muscle and tendon due to severe persistent stiffness and spasms)
  • Bone and joint deformities
  • Fatigue

Causes

Spasticity is caused by a disruption of normal signals from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the muscles. This imbalance is often found in people with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

Risk Factors

Any injury to the central nervous system will increase a patient’s risk for experiencing spasticity.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis for spasticity is made by examining a patient’s medical history, and whether s/he has a family history of neurological or muscular disorders. Your doctor may also perform tests that evaluate arm and leg movements, muscular activity, passive and active range of motion and ability to perform self-care activities to help confirm the diagnosis.

Complications

Pain and chronic pain, and the loss of normal range of joint motion are the major complications of spasticity. Pain associated with spasticity may be as mild as a feeling of tight muscles, or it may be severe enough to produce painful arm or leg spasms. Spasticity may also cause low back pain and joint tightness.

Types of Treatment

  • Botulinum toxin and neurolytic injections
  • intrathecal baclofen pump management
  • Spasticity Management