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About Spasticity

Spasticity is a neurological condition that often occurs following damage to the areas of the brain that control muscle movement. The neurology specialists at Riverhills Neuroscience, with three Cincinnati, Ohio, area offices in Norwood, Westside, and Anderson, as well as an office in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, provide comprehensive and coordinated care for spasticity. The multidisciplinary practice is a one-stop-shop with specialists in many areas of medicine, including neurosurgery, interventional pain management, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. Call the office near you today or request information online to learn more about spasticity care at Riverhills Neuroscience.

Spasticity Q&A

What does spasticity mean?

Spasticity means rigid or stiff muscles that affect motion. It may also be referred to as an increased muscle tone or hypertonia.

With spasticity, the muscles stay in a contracted position and are difficult to stretch, which may affect walking, talking, or any other body movement. 

What causes spasticity?

Spasticity is a neurological condition that occurs when there’s damage to the part of the brain or spinal cord that controls muscle movement. The nervous system damage may create an imbalance in the neurotransmitters that send messages to the muscles, causing the muscles to lock in place.

Symptoms of spasticity vary widely and may cause:

  • Mild muscle stiffening
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Painful muscle contractions
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Muscle wasting
  • Joint deformity

Spasticity may occur following a brain or spinal cord injury or stroke. It also occurs in people with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis (MS).

When should I see a neurologist for spasticity?

You should see one of the neurologists at Riverhills Neuroscience if you develop muscle stiffening from an unknown cause or your spasticity is worsening. Spasticity may cause permanent joint stiffness and pain or pressure ulcers when left untreated.

Because spasticity may occur from varied causes, no single test can diagnose muscle stiffness. The neurologists at Riverhills Neuroscience conduct a comprehensive physical and neurological exam to test for and determine the severity of the spasticity. 

Your neurologist may also order an MRI to determine the cause. Riverhills Neuroscience does onsite MRIs at their office in Norwood. 

What treatments help spasticity?

Riverhills Neuroscience takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating spasticity. The details of your plan depend on the severity and cause and may include:

  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Casting or bracing
  • Medications to manage symptoms
  • Botulinum toxin injections

The specialists may also recommend the placement of an intrathecal baclofen pump, which delivers baclofen into the spinal fluid, reducing spasticity and pain with fewer side effects. Baclofen is a muscle relaxant.

Riverhills Neuroscience may suggest selective dorsal rhizotomy (burning of the selective nerve root) to reset the electrical signals and reduce spasticity for patients with cerebral palsy who have severe spasticity in the legs.

Spasticity treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach. Call Riverhills Neuroscience today or request more information online.