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NINDS Spasticity Information Page


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What is Spasticity?

Spasticity is a condition in which there is an abnormal increase in muscle tone or stiffness of muscle, which might  interfere with movement, speech, or be associated with discomfort or pain.  Spasticity is usually caused by damage to nerve pathways within the brain or spinal cord that control muscle movement. It may occur in association with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, brain or head trauma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, hereditary spastic paraplegias, and metabolic diseases such as adrenoleukodystrophy, phenylketonuria, and Krabbe disease. Symptoms may include hypertonicity (increased muscle tone), clonus (a series of rapid muscle contractions), exaggerated deep tendon reflexes, muscle spasms, scissoring (involuntary crossing of the legs), and fixed joints (contractures). The degree of spasticity varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, painful, and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Spasticity can interfere with rehabilitation in patients with certain disorders, and often interferes with daily activities.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment may include such medications as baclofen, diazepam, tizanidine or clonazepam. Physical therapy regimens may include muscle stretching and range of motion exercises to help prevent shrinkage or shortening of muscles and to reduce the severity of symptoms. Targeted injection of botulinum toxin into muscles with the most tome can help to selectively weaken these muscles to improve range of motion and function.  Surgery may be recommended for tendon release or to sever the nerve-muscle pathway.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for those with spasticity depends on the severity of the spasticity and the associated disorder(s).

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research on brain and spinal cord disorders that can cause spasticity. The goals of this research are to increase scientific understanding about these disorders and to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Spasticity Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
March of Dimes
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY   10605
askus@marchofdimes.com
http://www.marchofdimes.com
Tel: 914-997-4488 888-MODIMES (663-4637)
Fax: 914-428-8203

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
733 Third Avenue
3rd Floor
New York, NY   10017-3288
ContactUsNMSS@nmss.org
http://www.nationalmssociety.org
Tel: 800-344-4867 (800-FIGHT-MS)
Fax: 212-986-7981

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)
1825 K St NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC   20006
info@ucp.org
http://www.ucp.org
Tel: 202-776-0406 800-USA-5UCP (872-5827)
Fax: 202-776-0414

Easter Seals
233 South Wacker Drive
Suite 2400
Chicago, IL   60606
info@easterseals.com
http://www.easterseals.com
Tel: 312-726-6200 800-221-6827
Fax: 312-726-1494

 


Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated October 4, 2011