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How Doctors Treat Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis


Spasticity is where the muscles become stiffened and often spasm due to nerve damage — it’s a common symptom associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).

MORE: Six of the best apps for managing chronic illness

Generally, the spasticity occurs in the arms and legs and may impact the way a person can move their limbs. According to WebMD, for some people living with MS, the spasticity may come and go — particularly during the night — while others may experience spasticity all the time.

Weather can often affect the severity of spasticity, with many experiencing worsening symptoms during either hot or cold weather. Other factors that can influence spasticity are infections and even wearing tight clothing.

There are ways to treat spasticity, but the method will depend on how severe the spasticity is and the effect it has on the person’s daily life. The first port of call is usually physical therapy, which will use exercises designed to stretch and elongate the muscles to help reduce stiffness.

Occupational therapy involves the use of items that may help improve mobility, including casts, braces, walking sticks, or splints.

If occupational or physical therapy has no effect on the spasticity, doctors may prescribe medications to relax the muscles or aid sleep if spasticity is worse at night.  In severe cases, surgery may be required to cut away affected spinal nerves (rhizotomy) or tenotomy, which cuts tight tendons away from muscles to relieve tension.

MORE: Nine ways MS affects you from your head to toes.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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    • Jan Hershberger says:

      Does Magnesium really help?
      I use the powder, Awake early evening and it does relax me and helps with sleep. So does
      Medical weed…

  1. Shelia Huff says:

    My neurologist up and left town.I have been without medication for about 8 months. It has been very difficult for me. I finally got an appointment with a new doctor next month. I have alot of nerve damage I’m talking nerotin(sorry about the spelling) it really helps most of my spasming.Brain fog is a big problem and so is sleep. Sometimes to much sometimes not much at all.

  2. Collette says:

    Baclophen helps me sleep. However, the burning and stinging is only relieved at times by soaking my feet and ankles in ice water…sometimes even my hands and wrists. It seems to break the cycle of discomfort.

  3. Donald Ayres says:

    Why would you write about MS spasticity and not include Baclofen, or the use of Botox on specific muscle groups, or the fact that spasticity can also affect the bladder? People reading this will learn more about spasticity by reading the comments.

  4. Paul says:

    I have PPMS and have tried Tizinidine, Baclofen and Amitriptyline. None helped the spasms which can turn into convulsions and last for 6 hours. Pramipexole and Tramadol work. I don’t like taking them, but I do on a daily basis. They do help the spasms.

  5. Janet Jarvis says:

    Paul. I have PPMS too. I have tried baclofen, tinzanadine and probably everything else and nothing worked. If you have a facebook page, look up the MS Gym it is run by a guy Trevor Wicken in colorado USA. He publishes daily exercises for all aspects of MS conditions. It is free and highly motivational. The exercises work big time and my neurologist has said she can see a big difference in my walking and spasticity. Give it a go .

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