Spasticity – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Spasticity is a motor disorder in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. This is characterized by tight or stiff muscles and later on can interfere with normal movement, speech, and gait.
Spasticity is usually caused by an imbalance of signals from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the muscles.
Spasticity affects negatively muscles and joints of the extremities and is particularly harmful to grow children. Spasticity affects more than an estimated 12 million people worldwide.
The word spasm comes from the Greek word (spasms) which means to ‘pull or drag’. It is also referred to as an unusual stiffness, and/or “pull” of muscles. Spasticity is isokinetic (abnormal but not increased movements), while dystonia and other movement disorders are hyperkinetic (abnormal and increased movements).
What Are the Symptoms of Spasticity?
Involuntary movements, which may include spasms (brisk and/or sustained involuntary muscle contraction) and clonus (series of fast involuntary contractions)
- Difficulty with care and hygiene
- Bone and joint deformities
- Increased muscle tone.
- Muscle stiffness, causing movements to be less precise and making certain tasks difficult to perform
- Muscle and joint deformities
- Abnormal posture
- Contractures (a permanent contraction of the muscle and tendon due to severe persistent stiffness and spasms)
- Overactive reflexes
- Decreased functional abilities and delayed motor development
- Inhibition of longitudinal muscle growth
- Inhibition of protein synthesis in muscle cells
How is Spasticity diagnosed?
A doctor will examine the patient’s medical history and find out the grade and severity of Spasticity. Medical history along with previous medical incidents will help to the doctor and cause and type of Spasticity.
Several grading systems are present to evaluate the severity of Spasticity, which ultimately helps in recommending various kinds of treatment available for Spasticity.
Later on, several tests can help to confirm the diagnosis.
Available Treatment for Spasticity disease
Treatment of Spasticity may include medications such as Oral Medications.
- Dantrolene sodium
Occupational and Physical therapy programs which help to improve muscle stretching and range of motion exercises.
Local injections of Botox for the treatment of segmental upper and lower limb Spasticity are available,but the effect is short lasting and temporary. But, they are also known to have serious possible side effects, including difficulty breathing or swallowing or spreading to other areas of the body.
The Intrathecal Baclofen therapy is now one of the most promising modality of controlling Spasticity and helping the patient to ambulate with support.