Complications of spasticity

Spasticity most often strikes the muscles needed to keep you standing upright, like those of your feet, groin, thigh, calf and back. Be aware of factors that might aggravate the problem. For example, an untreated bladder infection can contribute to spasticity.

Mild spasticity may affect how you walk, interfering with proper motion, or it may take you more effort to move and limit how far you can go. Severe spasticity can be painful and might lead to some degree of disability. Sometimes, degrees of spasticity may still allow you to walk even if you have weak leg muscles.

When spasticity goes unchecked, permanent shortening of muscles and tendons can cause the joint to "seize up," a condition known as joint contractures. These may make joints painfully deformed, and might make it difficult for you to communicate, eat and perform many other everyday tasks. Fortunately, there are ways to control spasticity and perform many of the activities you enjoy in daily life.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Spasticity

Physical activity

The best way to manage spasticity is to find a team of experts who will work together to customize a treatment for you. This team includes your medical doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, orthotist, wheelchair specialist and, most importantly, you!

Physical activity: a helpful approach to manage spasticity
A physiotherapist and/or occupational therapist can design a program especially for you, using various physical (as opposed to medication or surgical) treatments. An important strategy is to develop weaker muscle groups with strengthening exercises while stretching and relaxing those that are spastic so you can move better.

Stretching is one of the most effective ways to manage spasticity. It's essential that you stretch properly every day. This will help maintain full joint range of motion, keep your muscles supple and prevent your joints from seizing up. It should be done both sitting and lying down to target the various muscle groups, and works best when done slowly and held for a prolonged period.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Spasticity

Posture is important

Whether you're sitting up or lying down, proper body positioning will ease spasticity and improve your posture. For example, spastic arms have a tendency to curl up, but correct positioning can help prevent this. Balanced posture is more comfortable, reduces pain by avoiding pressure points, lowers the risk of contractures and prevents breathing problems.

Splinting joints to prevent contractures and improve movement in ones that are already contracted is another way to control spasticity. The limbs can be held in place with air splints or braces (orthoses). Casts are sometimes used as temporary braces to gradually stretch out a contractured limb. This method, called serial casting, involves applying a series of casts where each new one opens up the joint a little more than the last. Your medical team will decide whether any of these techniques are right for you.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Spasticity

Some other options for managing spasticity

Spasticity may also be controlled with medication, mainly muscle relaxants. Ask your doctor if they might help you.

If you have severe spasticity that isn't improving despite medication and exercise, you may opt for surgery. There are several types of operations, and your doctor will determine if you could benefit from any of them.

Always remember to perform all activities slowly and with control. This way you won't set off the affected muscles and make the spasticity worse.

With proper care and attention, you can limit the effects of spasticity and preserve the most function possible.

This article was amended from an article published in the Winter 2002 Compass by Caroline El-Tantawy, BSc (PT).

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Spasticity