What is spasticity?
Spasticity is muscle tightness that makes movement— especially of the arms and legs—difficult or uncontrollable. It typically results from injury to a part of the central nervous system (brain or spinal cord) or from abnormalities in parts of the brain that control voluntary movements. Common conditions associated with spasticity include cerebral palsy, brain injury, stroke and spinal cord injury. Spasticity—which varies from mild stiffness to severe, painful, uncontrolled muscle spasms—can sometimes be very difficult to control and can interfere with activities of daily living.
What can treating spasticity do?
- May promote comfort and improve ease of care
- May improve gait, mobility, and function
- May decrease muscle spasms, pain and fatigue
- May promote increased range of motion
- May improve sleep
- Complements physical, occupational, and speech therapies
Treating severe spasticity may require a combination of approaches. For some patients, intrathecal baclofen pump therapy may be a good option. Because a baclofen pump releases medication—baclofen—directly into the fluid around the spinal cord, the baclofen does not enter the bloodstream. This avoids some of the potential side effects of oral baclofen in the brain and intestines, and avoids drug interactions for patients with complex medication regimens to treat conditions such as seizures