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Multiple Sclerosis and Spasticity1

How is Multiple Sclerosis related to Spasticity?

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) affecting the myelin sheath which insulates nerve cells and is important for the transmission of nerve impulses. This causes the relay of information between the brain and the rest of your body to either slow down or stop and can lead to muscle weakness, difficulty with coordination and balance, vision and speech difficulties, tremors, dizziness, and cognitive difficulties.

Symptoms of Multiple sclerosis

One of the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis is spasticity, which may range from mild stiffness to painful spasms of the muscles. It may cause lower back pain and decreased range of movement around the joints, and can lead to contractures (shortening of muscles producing frozen or immobile joints) and bedsores due to immobility. These complications can, in turn, aggravate symptoms further. Spasticity usually affects the legs and may be brought on by sudden movement or changes in position, very hot or cold weather, tight clothing or infections.

Treatment of Spasticity

To treat your spasticity, your doctor may recommend physical therapy in order to strengthen and lengthen the muscles and retain mobility around the joints. Medication for spasticity may be prescribed. If pain is present with spasticity, appropriate treatment is given. Occupational therapy may be recommended to help you make appropriate changes to your daily activities. Braces and splinting may help with range of motion and flexibility. If these fail, your doctor may suggest surgery, which involves cutting the nerve supply to specific muscles to prevent spasm and releasing tight tendons.

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