Spasticity Infographic

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What You Should Know About Spasticity

Spasticity is like a charley horse that never ends. Symptoms include painful, stiff, rigid muscles, involuntary contractions or muscle spasms, and overactive reflexes.

Effects of spasticity:

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

About 25 to 43% of stroke survivors will have spasticity in the first year after their stroke.

Complications from spasticity:

  • Atypical posture
  • Contractures (permanent contraction of the muscles and tendons)
  • Bone and joint deformities
  • Difficulty with care and hygiene
  • Skin irritation due to spasms

Treatments for spasticity:

While there’s no cure for spasticity, a combination of these and other therapies and medications can lessen the symptoms and improve strength and movement.

  • Targeted injections of botulinum toxin to block nerve pain and relieve tight muscles
  • Oral medications 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
  • Applying a brace or splint to an affected limb or joint
  • 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

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