Spasticity is an involuntary contraction of your muscles that produces stiffness and loss of control, leading to difficulty with movement and speech. Other symptoms of spasticity include pain, jerking movements, hyperactive reflexes, muscle spasms, bone and joint deformity, and abnormal posture. It is caused by injury to the region of the brain that controls movement or damage to the nerves that carry impulses between the brain and the muscles due to trauma. Spasticity may also be associated with diseases such as multiple sclerosis, stroke and cerebral palsy.
To diagnose spasticity your doctor reviews your family and medical history, and performs a thorough physical examination to identify associated muscular or neurologic disorders. Your doctor may order tests to assess muscular activity, range of motion, and movement of your arms and legs.
It is necessary to seek treatment early as spasticity can lead to contractures (hardening of the muscles), joint stiffness, and pressure ulcers from immobility. Spasticity treatment includes medication, Botulinum toxin injections, occupational and physical therapy, use of braces, or surgery. In rare cases, your doctor inserts a pump into the spinal fluid to directly administer medications to the nervous system.