Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive disease of the central nervous system. One of the common symptoms is spasticity.

What is spasticity?

Spasticity is a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. This contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and may interfere with gait, movement and speech.

It’s usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement.

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. The condition can interfere with rehabilitation in patients with certain disorders and often interferes with daily activities.

Prognosis

The prognosis for those with spasticity depends on the severity of the spasticity and the associated disorder(s).
In people with multiple sclerosis, spasticity is sometimes worsened by temperature extremes, infections and humidity.

Treatment

Treatment may include:
– Medications such as baclofen, diazepam or clonazepam.
– Muscle stretching, range of motion exercises and other physical therapy regimens to help prevent joint contractures (shrinkage or shortening of a muscle) and reduce the severity of symptoms.
– Surgery for tendon release or to sever the nerve-muscle pathway.

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