Managing Spasticity

Spasticity is defined as uncontrollable continuous contractions in muscles. Spasticity affects more than twelves million people around the globe. Many of the people affected by spasticity suffer from cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Treating spasticity can be difficult, but physiatrists have the ability to treat spasticity without the use of traditional medication.

Cause of Spasticity

Spasticity is a symptom among neurological disorders or injuries. Spasticity occurs when the pathways between the brain and the spinal cord that control voluntary movement are damaged. The damage in these pathways causes them to act irregular which in turn causes muscles to overreact and be under constant contractions. Other neurological conditions that have symptoms of spasticity include stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injury among many others. Spasticity can vary in severity from mildly annoying and inconvenient to painful and interfere with normal muscle functions. There are many ways to treat spasticity, and each avenue should be explored to ensure the right treatment for each patient.

Treatments

There are a plethora of options for the treatment of spasticity. Many of the treatment options are non-opioid medications and depending on the cause and severity of the spasticity should determine what treatments options should be pursued. Physical and occupational therapy is a valid treatment option for spasticity. Physical therapy options for spasticity include massage therapy and frequent sustained stretching plans. Massage therapy and stretching both have the goal of reducing muscle tone, maintaining or even improving range of motion in muscle groups, and increasing the comfortability of muscles for everyday use. Occupational therapy for spasticity could include a variety of braces or casts to support muscles and maintain flexibility.

Extreme Cases

In very severe cases of spasticity, two types of surgery can be performed to relieve spasticity. The first procedure is call rhizotomy which cuts away spinal cord nerves to treat pain signals going to your brain. The procedure is used for spasticity as well as chronic back pain in patients. The second procedure is tenotomy which cuts tendons away from tight muscle groups to relieve pain. Although, these two procedures are not ideal for treating spasticity they are two options that can be pursued when all other treatments have failed.

Treatment plans for patients should be well thought out and analyzed by professionals before executing. Where the spasticity is taking place, how severe are the symptoms, the patient’s functionality among symptoms, and the ability to recover from treatments should all be considered before executing a treatment plan.

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