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Managing Spasticity

Spasticity is a condition which can affect both adults and children, and commonly follows a traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, or a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. It occurs when the nerves fail to properly send messages to the muscles of the upper and lower extremities resulting in tight, stiff muscles that spasm making movement difficult, painful, and uncontrollable.

Beyond the pain and stiffness, spasticity can result in contracture which reduces motion and limits the ability to perform everyday activities. You may notice spasticity in a variety of ways including:

  • A clenched fist
  • A tight arm twisted up against your chest
  • Stiffening or tightening of your upper or lower limb
  • A "catching" feeling in the arm or leg during quick movements

Our physicians in the Regional Medical Group (RMG) Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic understand how to manage your spasticity while enhancing your function and mobility effectively. The first step is a comprehensive evaluation by one of our physiatrists, a physician who is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Your Marianjoy RMG physician will work with you to determine the best evidence-based, clinical treatment options to help meet your goals. These may include:

  • Physical and/or occupational therapy such as fundamental muscle stretching, positioning and movement exercises.
  • Oral medications which can be prescribed as the sole reliever of spasticity, or used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Botulinum toxin (BOTOX®) which acts as an inhibitor of muscle spasms and is widely accepted for use in treating localized spasticity. It is a natural substance injected directly into spastic muscle tissue and can be used with splinting and orthotic management to enhance the stretching effect.
  • Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy, an effective method for controlling severe spasticity, consists of a small surgically inserted pump that delivers a specific dosage of medication directly into the spinal fluid via a catheter. The amount is determined by the physician and is monitored closely to determine the most effective level for each patient.

Making an Appointment

To schedule an appointment for an evaluation, or for more information on treatment options, please call the Regional Medical Group Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation office at Marianjoy at 630.909.7000.