What is spasticity?

Spasticity is disruption in muscle movement patterns so that muscles contract all at once. Muscle movements are normally controlled by a complex system that allows some muscles to contract (tighten) while others relax. Damage to nerves in the central nervous system can disrupt the pattern. As a result, many muscles may contract all at once. This condition can be found in cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions that affect the brain and/or spinal cord. Spasticity mostly occurs in the legs but can occur in the arms.

What are symptoms of spasticity?

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Involuntary movements
    • Spasms (quick and/or sustained involuntary muscle contractions)
    • Clonus (series of fast involuntary contractions)
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Less ability to function
  • Problems with care and hygiene
  • Abnormal posture
  • Contracture (permanent contraction of the muscle and tendon due to severe lasting stiffness and spasms)
  • Bone and joint deformities
  • Decreased quality of life

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