Spasticity is a condition in which individual muscles contract continually, or in some early cases, sporadically. These contractions cause muscle stiffness, spasms, cramps, or tightness and interfere with movement, speech, and gait. In superficial siderosis, it’s most likely caused by damage to the motor pathways at the brainstem or spinal cord levels.

Mild spasticity may feel like the tightness of muscles or can become so severe it causes painful and uncontrollable spasms. Spasticity may also produce feelings of pain or tightness in your joints, low back pain, and muscle fatigue. Even though spasticity can occur in any limb, it is most common in the legs.

Managing Spasticity

Spasticity is different in every person, so it’s best to consult a specialist about treatment. There are medications available for extreme cases but most people will benefit from some form of exercise.

Physical and occupational therapy for spasticity will help maintain or improve range of motion, mobility, coordination, and increase your comfort. Treatments include stretching and strengthening exercises, limb positioning, cold packs, electrical muscle stimulation, and biofeedback.

  • Flexor spasticity causes muscles to be so tight that the limbs are bent and hard to straighten
  • Extensor spasticity tightens muscles forcing the limbs remain straight and hard to bend.
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Burridge JH, Wood DE, Hermens HJ, Voerman GE, Johnson GR, van Wijck F, et al. Theoretical and methodological considerations in the measurement of spasticity. Disabil Rehabil. 2005 Jan 7-21. 27(1-2):69-80. [Medline]
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