Spasticity After Stroke Checklist

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If You are Experiencing spasticity


What is Spasticity?

Spasticity is one of the most common post-stroke conditions. It’s like a charley horse that never ends. Symptoms include painful, stiff, rigid muscles, involuntary contractions or muscle spasms, and overactive reflexes.

Stroke and Spasticity

A stroke can damage the brain, which can disrupt communication between the brain and the muscles. Muscles do not receive messages to relax, spasticity can occur. These spasms may restrict balance, coordination and muscle movement, and decrease the overall quality of life.

Common effects of spasticity include:

  • Bent elbow and arm pressed against the chest
  • Tight fist
  • Pointed foot
  • Curled toes
  • Stiffness in arms, fingers, knees or legs


While there’s no cure for spasticity, a combination of these therapies and medications can treat and manage the symptoms and improve strength and movement:

  • Targeted injections of botulinum toxin to block pain and relieve tight muscles
  • Oral medication to help relax the nerves and muscles
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation or vibrations applied to spasmatic muscles
  • Intrathecal baclofen therapy may be used to deliver continuous medication to ease severe muscle contractions and spasms
  • Gentle stretching of tighter muscles
  • Range-of-motion exercises
  • Frequent movement and repositioning of body parts
  • Surgery on affected muscles, tendons or joints to block pain and restore movement
  • Applying a brace or splint to an affected limb or joint

If untreated, spasticity can cause painful and debilitating bone and joint deformities. It can also result in full-time institutionalized care. Unfortunately, more than half of stroke survivors don’t seek assistance for this condition.


Spasticity After Stroke Checklist


1. Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?

  • ☐ Tightness in limbs
  • ☐ Severe charley horse/cramps
  • ☐ Muscle spasms (involuntary movement)
  • ☐ Distortion of muscles and/or limbs

2. If you’re experiencing muscle spasms, please indicate the location and severity (on a scale from 1 to 5).

  • 1 – Mild Spasms
    2 – Spasms are beginning to interfere with daily living
    3 – Spasms are interfering with daily living
    4 – Spasms are consuming your day
  • ☐ Arms
  • ☐ Legs
  • ☐ Hands
  • ☐ Feet
  • ☐ Other

3. How often are you experiencing pain?

  • ☐ I’m not experiencing pain
  • ☐ Daily – Number of times a day____
  • ☐ Weekly – Number of times a week____
  • ☐ Monthly – Number of times a month_____

If you are experiencing pain associated with your symptoms, please indicate the location and the level of your pain (on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 indicating mild and 10 indicating severe).

4. Which daily activities are your symptoms affecting?

  • ☐ Eating
  • ☐ Dressing
  • ☐ Toileting
  • ☐ Walking
  • ☐ Sleeping
  • ☐ Bathing
  • ☐ Other

This checklist can help you better understand your spasticity and contribute to an open, productive conversation with your health care provider.


Date of your stroke:

Physician’s name:

Physician’s phone:

Appt. date:

Did you experience muscle weakness after your stroke?
☐ Yes    ☐ No

List all medications you’re taking:


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