Spasticity is a neurological condition that causes the muscles to be constantly contracted.

This contraction causes stiffness of the muscles and may interfere with movement, such as walking.

Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. It may occur as a result of a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • stroke
  • multiple sclerosis
  • cerebral palsy
  • traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • metabolic diseases such as adrenoleukodystrophy and phenylketonuria (PKU).

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.

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 for spasticity?

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.

In some cases, botulinum toxin (Botox)  injections may be recommended. 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 underlying cause.


Reference: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

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