What Is Spasticity?

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Spasticity occurs when the nerve impulses within the brain or spinal cord that control your muscle movement are either interrupted or damaged. Damage to the nerves will cause your muscles to either contract, stiffen, or involuntarily spasm. Uncomfortable and painful, spasticity can make it extremely difficult to move, walk, or even talk.

Spasticity can often be found in people who suffer from conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and have suffered a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury.

What are the Symptoms of Spasticity?

Depending on the severity of the condition, symptoms can range from a mild stiffness of the muscles to painful spasms. Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Pain
  • Rapid muscle contractions
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • Involuntary crossing of the legs (scissoring)
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Increased muscle tone (hypertonicity)
  • Fixed joints

Spasticity can be harmful in growing children, preventing muscle growth and protein synthesis in muscle cells.

Complications can include frozen joints, pressure sores, fever, urinary tract infections, and/or chronic constipation.

These symptoms can easily interfere with daily activities, making it hard to continue living a normal life. It can affect your daily hygiene routine, cause an abnormal posture and result in deformities in both the bones and joints.

Treatments Available for Spasticity

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to relieve the symptoms of spasticity. One such treatment that shows the most promise is botulinum toxin injections.

More commonly known as Botox or Dysport, botulinum toxin can be used to paralyze the muscle to prevent contraction. Depending on the pattern of spasticity, the physician selects specific sites for injection. The medication will last between 12 and 16 weeks when nerve ends begin to form.

Other successful treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy to help strengthen and stretch out the muscles
  • Occupational therapy to improve strength and coordination
  • Casting or bracing, which can prevent involuntary spasms and reduce muscle tightening
  • Oral medications

When spasticity is severe, an intrathecal baclofen surgery may be recommended. A pump will be implanted just underneath the skin of the abdomen. The pump is then programmed wirelessly to deliver baclofen either on a continuous basis, on a flexible schedule, or a combination of the two. The medication can improve the hyperactive reflexes and excessive muscle tone.

Schedule an Appointment With Janerich Pain Specialists

If you are experiencing spasticity and would like to understand your treatment options, turn to Dr. David Janerich and the specialists at Janerich Pain Specialists. With experience in spasticity, we can recommend the best course of treatment. Schedule an appointment today.

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