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What is Spasticity?

Spasticity is a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted.
This contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and may interfere with movement, speech, and manner of walking.

What is the cause of Spasticity?

Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement.
It may occur in association with
  • Damage to the brain because of lack of oxygen
  • Brain trauma
  • Severe head injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Metabolic diseases such as adrenoleukodystrophy,
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • Phenylketonuria.

What are the symptoms of Spasticity?

Symptoms may include:
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hypertonicity (increased muscle tone)
  • Clonus (a series of rapid muscle contractions)
  • Scissoring (involuntary crossing of the legs)
The degree of spasticity varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, painful, and uncontrollable muscle spasms.
Spasticity can interfere with rehabilitation in patients with certain disorders, and often interferes with daily activities.

Is there any treatment?

Yes, the treatment may include:
  • Removal of irritant stimuli
  • Oral medications such as baclofen, diazepam, tizanidine or clonazepam
  • Physical therapy regimens - may include muscle stretching and range of motion exercises to help prevent shrinkage or shortening of muscles and to reduce the severity of symptoms
  • Splinting - for example resting hand splint, cone splint, dynasplint
  • Serial casting
  • Chemical neurolysis -  using Botulinum toxin A (Botox) and botulinum toxin B
  • Intrathecal baclofen
  • Surgery may be recommended for tendon release or to sever the nerve-muscle pathway