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  • Kimberly


    Spasticity is a widespread and debilitating condition that is associated with some common neurologic disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Spasticity causes certain muscles to continuously contract. It is one of the more common symptoms of MS.

    Spasticity can be as mild as the feeling of muscle tightness and cramping, or as severe as painful, uncontrollable spasms, usually in the legs. It also tends to affect one side of the body more than the other.

    Common symptoms of spasticity can include:

    Increased muscle tone
    Muscle tightness and/or stiffness
    Overactive reflexes
    Involuntary movements, which may include spasms (brisk and/or sustained involuntary muscle contraction) and clonus (series of fast involuntary contractions)
    Decreased functional abilities
    Abnormal posture
    Contractures (permanent contraction of the muscle and tendon due to severe persistent stiffness and spasms)
    Bone and joint deformities
    As with other MS-related conditions, spasticity tends to come and go and can be triggered by sudden movements, temperature changes, humidity, infections, or even tight clothing.

    It is estimated that more than 80% of MS patients have spasticity. Spasticity can lead to serious complications if not treated. Treatment can include medication, exercise, or changes in daily activities. There are different medications available that can be taken orally, intravenously, or delivered into the spinal fluid. Physical therapy, like exercising, can help prevent painful and disabling complications to the hips, knees, ankles, shoulder, and elbows. There are also devices that can help assist with daily activities that might be made more difficult by spasticity.

    To learn more about spasticity, please visit:
    National MS Society
  • Avatar
    Spasticity kicks my butt every day, but on the plus side, my legs looked toned. Wahoo!
  • clarinetmom
    Would severe pain in the knee (medial side) fall into the spasticity spectrum? I'm 4 months post arthroscopy/chondroplasty on this knee, and now have been having medial pain, which is new. My ortho wants to do a bursal injection, but my pt is finding muscle spasms in the hamstring and gastroc junction. My neuro seems to be uninterested. Any thoughts from those who have experience with this would be greatly appreciated!
  • Michraf
    Thank you! Thank god I am on the milder side most of the time. It's usaully at it's worst when I finally stop and settle down or it forces me to stop.
  • Nicki_Boo
    I am so glad you posted this. I just got out of the hospital from a relapse and I'd love some conformation that I am not the only one who has experiences like this! When I went in, I had been experiencing an increase in spasticity for 2 weeks -- right side only -- and my dr and I had been trying to manage it with changing doses of zanaflex and valium. But over the course of three days my spasticty was so bad that my right hip was permanently raised and my right leg was so spasmed that when I walked my gait was like scissors. Of course, my MS neuro is not in the same city in which I live. I went into  my local hospital after calling her and she suggested that my local neuro consult with her once I went to the ER. To make a long story short...I was treated with 3 days of IV Solumedrol and then moved to inpatient rehab for 7 days. I came home in a wheelchair and am walking about 500 feet a day with a walker. I am in outpatient physical and occupational therapy.'s the kicker....


    They are referring me to see a Movement Disorders specialist for a consult in June, which is fine with me because I do already have cervical dystonia (neck/shoulder). But what do you think? In YOUR experiences, has spasticity altered your posture to an extreme degree and then improved it somewhat with therapy and steroids, thereby making sense to consider it a typical relapse?

    It left me so frustrated and confused.

    Thanks in advance for letting me vent. A month ago I was shooting basketball in the driveway with my kids, going to work, driving, running errands around town, etc. Now...... well, you know.

  • triara
    It greatly affects my manual dexterity.  My hands have been numb and very stiff for over ten yrs.  baclofen helps a bit.  I get thigh spasms sometimes. Very painful, thankfully not often.  Usually when I am in bed.   It is one doozy of a way to wake up.

    I have a friend who is a highly trained reflexologist.  I gave her a massage and she did my feet and hands.  The feet made my leg muscles try to tighten, but my hands OMG, I have sensation back in my hands and about 90% of the stiffness is gone.  I thought it would bve a nice massage and thats about it.  I was amazed at how it improved things.  It has lasted a few days.  We are doing it again tomorrow to see if we can maintain it.
  • kissmyabbis
    I am very interested in starting massage therapy with a professional. Maybe you could look into more regular sessions with massage therapy or physical therapy. 
  • Erika_Anne
    I have these ridiculous jumpy toes - I can't sleep because my big toe will jerk up over and over again until it's just worn out and painful. Anybody else suffer from this minor, but extremely irritating effect?
  • OffBalance
    Thank you for this detailed summary of spasticity.  I find that in the evening when I can relax that I experience spasams in my legs.  Also, often when I am outside and it turns colder or damper I experience the same symptoms.

    Again, your review was extremely helpful.  Keep up the GREAT posts.
  • msfish
    Vitamin D  And nortriptyline hcl helps mine!
  • Michraf
    Love your quote at the bottom OffBalance! I sing this to my kids!
  • OffBalance
    Hard to beat those great lyrics of the late 1960s!!!!!
  • Kimberly
    I love the quote and the song!!! xoxoxoxo
  • MS_Caregiver_Donna
    My husband had severe spasticity where his limbs would get so stiff, I literally could not bend them.  He had a baclofen pump implanted and that has really helped a lot. Took almost a year to get the exact right dose but now he is much better. 

    He also had jerky leg movements like he was kicking out his leg; totally uncontrollable. it got better with the pump and then worse again.  found out that the second time it was because he was anemic.Go figure!  He got his hemoglobin up and the kicking stopped.
  • Rich1007
    Hi Nicki,

    Yeah...spacicity sux.  Mine started about 4 years ago in my calf muscles, then it slowly moved to my quads.  It makes walking difficult and my neuro just recently recommended I get a walker and scooter.  Sometimes I'm ok, but the most of the time its tough to walk because I'm fighting against those big stiff muscles in my legs to move them.  Its hard to accept but I sad to say I guess this is what life with MS is like for many of us.   Spasitity is one of the worst symptoms to deal with.
  • harconan
    I have had spasticity almost the whole time of diagnoses. When my back goes I look like an inch worm. However with the miracle of botox and some muscle relaxers I can live an almost normal life.