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Monday, August 28, 2017

Spasticity in MS


                            



Spasticity refers to feelings of stiffness and a wide range of involuntary muscle spasms (sustained muscle contractions or sudden movements). It is one of the more common symptoms of MS. Spasticity may be as mild as the feeling of tightness of muscles or may be so severe as to produce painful, uncontrollable spasms of extremities, usually of the legs. Spasticity may also produce feelings of painor tightness in and around joints, and can cause low back pain. Although spasticity can occur in any limb, it is much more common in the legs.
  • In flexor spasticity, mostly involving the hamstrings (muscles on the back of the upper leg), and hip flexors (muscles at the top of the upper thigh), the hips and knees are bent and difficult to straighten.
  • In extensor spasticity, involving the quadriceps and adductors (muscles on the front and inside of the upper leg), the hips and knees remain straight with the legs very close together or crossed over at the ankles.
Spasticity may be aggravated by sudden movements or position changes, extremes of temperature, humidity or infections, and can even be triggered by tight clothing.
Treatment of spasticity and muscle tightness by medication and physical and occupational therapy is needed to prevent painful and disabling contractures in the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows. Surgical measures are considered for those rare cases of spasticity that defy all other treatments.

Left untreated, spasticity can lead to serious complications, including contractures (frozen or immobilized joints) and pressure sores (Momentum magazine article). Since these complications also act as spasticity triggers, they can set off a dangerous escalation of symptoms.


Some degree of spasticity can provide benefit, particularly for people who experience significant leg weakness. The spasticity gives their legs some rigidity, making it easier for them to stand, transfer, or walk. The goal of treatment for these individuals is to relieve the spasticity sufficiently to ensure comfort and prevent complications, without taking away the rigidity they need to function.
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