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Spasticity 101

Spasticity is a condition in which muscles are continuously contracted, causing stiffness and pain.

What causes spasticity?
For stroke survivors, spasticity is caused by the damage the stroke does to the portion of the central nervous system that controls movement. It is essentially an imbalance of signals in the central nervous system that cause the muscles to contract.

Symptoms
Spasticity can range from a mild feeling of tightness in muscles to spasms that are uncontrollable and painful. Symptoms include

    Muscle stiffness, which can make certain tasks difficult to perform
    Muscle spasms and painful muscle contractions
    Involuntary movement
    Muscle and joint deformities
    Muscle fatigue

Treatment Options
There are several types of treatments for spasticity with the overall goals being to relieve the signs and symponts, reduce pain and frequency of muscle contractions and imporve motor function.

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy  Physical and occupational therapy for spasticity help to improve range of motion, mobility, increase comfort, coordination and strength. Therapy may include stretching, use of braces, electrical stimulation, and biofeedback.
  • Oral Medications  Oral medications are used to treat spasticity when the symptoms interfere with day-to-day functioning or with sleep. Medications prescribe may include:
    • Gabapentin
    • Baclofen
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Dantrolene sodium
    • Imidazolines
  • Botulism Toxin Injections  Botulisms toxin injections, commonly know as Botox injections have been effective in treating spasticity. When Botox is injected into the muscle it relaxes spastic muscles. Injections take effect quickly and can last 3-4 months.
  • Intrathecal Baclofen (ITB)  Baclofen is used for severe cases of spasticity and is administered to the spinal fluid by a surgically implanted pump. This method provides a powerful reduction in spasticity and pain.

By: Stroke-Network.com Staff Writer Amy McCraken

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Botulisms toxin injections, commonly know as Botox injections have been effective in treating spasticity. When Botox is injected into the muscle it relaxes spastic muscles. Injections take effect quickly and can last 3-4 months.

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