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.

7 comments

    • Connie Moody says:

      Hi Susan,

      I am having a good experience eating a whole food plant based diet. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is a relief from numbness in legs and feet. It has also helped my digestion and I take a probiotic. The diet is no meat, dairy or oil. So I eat starch (potatoes, rice, pasta any whole grains) all kinds of vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Cutting out dairy really improved my digestion the most. Most people can’t change their diet overnight. If I didnt have MS I wouldnt have tried it, but it has made a big difference for me.

  1. John Stillitz says:

    How wonderfully helpful these MS updates are.
    The truth is we are sometimes more knowledgeable than our own doctors. This article on spasticity has a picture of my hand! About 6 months ago I saw my Doctor who assured me that my locked fingers had nothing to do with my MS.
    Thanks for that!
    As things got worse my Doctor sent me to a consultant who offered me the opportunity to try injections which may help.
    Look this is not a major concern to me – My fingers unlock after exercising, massage and stretching – its more annoying than painful. But I wanted to know if this was MS related.

    • Carrie says:

      Mine lock up constantly. It is an MS thing, I finally called my Dr out on it after the third carpal tunnel test was neg. For Pete’s sake, its hard for all of us to understand including the Dr’s.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *