Living with severe spasticity poses difficult physical challenges. Tight, stiff muscles can get in the way of daily activities. Fortunately, there is a therapy from Medtronic that can minimize severe spasticity in some individuals.
Spasticity is often described as tight, stiff muscles or spasms that may make movement, posture, and balance difficult. It may affect your ability to move one or more of your limbs, or to move one side of your body. Sometimes spasticity is so severe that it gets in the way of daily activities, sleep patterns, and caregiving.
Spasticity is caused by damage or injury to the part of the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) that controls voluntary movement. This damage disrupts important signals between the nervous system and muscles, creating an imbalance that increases muscle activity or spasms.
Severe spasticity is associated with the following conditions:
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
Symptoms of spasticity may include:1
- Increased muscle tone
- Overactive reflexes
- Involuntary movements, which may include spasms (brisk and/or sustained involuntary muscle contraction) and clonus (series of fast involuntary contractions)
- Decreased functional abilities and delayed motor development
- Difficulty with care and hygiene
- Abnormal posture
- Contractures (permanent contraction of the muscle and tendon due to severe persistent stiffness and spasms)
- Bone and joint deformities
Spasticity is typically diagnosed after the onset of a neurological condition. Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical evaluation. Your doctor may consider medications you have taken and whether there is a history of neurological or muscular disorders in your family. To confirm the diagnosis, tests can be performed to evaluate arm and leg movements, muscular activity, passive and active range of motion and ability to perform self-care activities.