Spasticity – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


Some neurological diseases have spasticity as a symptom as well as a characteristic of the condition. It brings a simultaneous contraction in a number of muscles. The severity of it varies, and it might interfere with mobility and speech. There are numerous treatment methods available for spasticity, such as physical therapy, medicine, and injections of botulinum toxin.

Spasticity is a disruption in the normal rhythms of muscular activity that causes some muscles to contract simultaneously whenever you make an effort to move or even while you are at rest. The muscles are unable to relax and put up a fight against being stretched. It impedes movement, and it also has the potential to impact your speech and gait (walking).

Spasticity can have a wide range of effects on a person; it can be as slight as a sensation of tightness in the muscles, or it can be so severe that it produces painful, uncontrollable stiffness and spasms in the extremities. Spasticity can be caused by a number of different conditions.

The following are examples of what can be included in spasticity:

  • A higher degree of muscular tone (hypertonia).
  • Spasms of the muscles are rapid and/or sustained involuntary contractions of the muscles.
  • The act of crossing your legs involuntarily.
  • Ache or distress is implied.
  • Abnormal posture
  • .
  • Deformities of the muscles, joints, and/or bones can occur.
  • Difficulty carrying out daily duties, as well as making it challenging for others to assist with activities such as clothing and bathing the individual.
  • Sleep interruption can occur as a result of a number of factors, including unpleasant muscle spasms and tense muscles.

Normally, the actions of your muscles are governed by a sophisticated system that enables certain of your muscles to contract (tighten) while other muscles in your body relax. This pattern can be thrown off if the nerves in your central nervous system sustain any kind of damage. As a consequence of this, many of the muscles in the body may contract at the same time, a phenomenon that is frequently referred to as co-contraction. This makes it more difficult to carry out movements of your own volition.

This is when the muscles become rigid or tight, hence impeding the normal flow of fluid. Because of this, movement, speech, and gait are all negatively impacted as the muscles continue to stay constricted and resist being stretched.

Muscle Spasticity and Rigidity?


Both muscle stiffness and muscle spasticity are examples of hypertonic states (states in which the muscle tone is unusually high), yet they are not the same thing.

Rigidity is a symptom that is frequently noticed in people who have Parkinson’s disease and is most commonly related to basal ganglia damage. These structures are linked to the thalamus.

In contrast to spasticity, rigidity affects all of the muscles that are located around a specific joint in an equal manner. In addition, when a person has spasticity, more fast movement will cause a stronger involuntary contraction of the muscles that are affected, sometimes known as a “catch.”

What are the Possible Complications of Spasticity?

There are many possible complications associated with spasticity. When it reaches a severe level, spasticity can make it difficult to perform daily functions and cause excruciating discomfort. In addition, it can make it more difficult to execute chores related to personal hygiene and general care. This, in turn, can raise the chance of developing pressure injuries, also known as bedsores, which can lead to infection as well as sepsis.

Spasticity ranging from mild to severe, if left untreated, can also lead to the following:

  • Contractures (frozen or immobilized joints).
  • Bone fractures.
  • Joint dislocation can range from partial to complete.
  • Infections of the urinary tract (UTIs).
  • Constipation persists over time.

How is Spasticity Treated?

The condition known as spasticity can be treated in a number of different ways. In most cases, multiple treatments are used concurrently for patients who suffer from spasticity. These treatments may help ease symptoms of spasticity and enhance the quality of life, despite the fact that spasticity does not have a known cure.

When treating spasticity, it is best to do so with a multidisciplinary group of medical experts, each of whom specializes in a particular aspect of the condition. This team’s roster may feature any combination of the following individuals at any given time:

  • A clinician with advanced levels of training
  • Physiotherapist or PT for short
  • Occupation: occupational therapist
  • A specialist in speech and language pathology
  • A specialist in orthopedic surgery

Nonsurgical Treatments for Spasticity

The following are examples of nonsurgical therapies for spasticity:

  • In physical therapy, the emphasis is typically placed on mobility training, lower extremity stretching and strengthening exercises, and other similar activities (transfers, standing, and walking).
  • Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist would typically place a greater emphasis on upper extremity stretching, strengthening, and training to do day-to-day activities such as grooming, bathing, and cooking. Occupational therapy is also known as “hands-on” therapy.
  • Speech therapy: If it affects the muscles in your mouth, face, and throat, a speech therapist can assist you with speaking, communicating, and swallowing if you suffer from this condition.
  • Casting or bracing: The use of casts or braces on the affected areas of your body can help offer a sustained stretch of spastic muscles, which can improve the range of motion and can facilitate function.
  • Assistive equipment: There is a wide array of assistive devices available that can help a person with spasticity move around and carry out everyday duties in a manner that is both more effective and safer.

Surgical Treatments for Spasticity

Spasticity is often only considered severe enough to warrant the recommendation of surgical therapies by medical professionals. The following treatments fall under this category:

  • Intrathecal baclofen therapy, also known as ITB therapy, is a treatment that involves surgically implanting a pump in your abdomen. This pump is able to deliver a constant dose of the medication baclofen to your spinal fluid through a catheter that is connected to the pump. Intrathecal baclofen therapy is also known as ITB therapy. When compared to the oral administration of baclofen, this method carries a reduced risk of sleepiness and can result in a significant improvement in both spasticity and pain.
  • Spasticity, which can be treated by selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), can be brought on by an imbalance in the electrical signals that are sent to certain muscles. The selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) procedure involves surgically severing precisely selected nerve roots in order to rebalance the electrical signals that are transmitted to the spinal cord. This surgery is only performed by surgeons when there is severe spasticity affecting the legs of the patient. Reduced muscular stiffness can be achieved with the targeted removal of troublesome nerve roots while other functions are preserved. SDR is the treatment that medical professionals most frequently suggested for patients diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
  • Orthopedic surgery is a type of surgery that treats the effects of spasticity on the body’s muscles, bones, and connective tissue, such as deformities and contractures. This type of surgery is performed on patients who have spasticity. Procedures such as tendon lengthening and tendon transfer are only a couple of examples.



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