Spasticity is an abnormal increase in muscle tone causing muscles to continually contract. Continual contraction of the muscles causes tightness or stiffness of the muscles that may interfere with movement.
Spasticity may be caused by damage to the nerve pathways regulating muscles, and it is a common complication of:
While the exact number of people affected by spasticity is not known with certainty, it is likely that it affects over half a million people in the United States alone and over 12 million worldwide.
Spasticity, if severe, can cause pain and difficulty with care and positioning. This can lead to skin irritation and even skin breakdown. It can hamper walking due to stiffness. If spasticity persists for a long time, the tendons and ligaments can permanently shorten, causing limbs to contract and become difficult to straighten out.
This can be very difficult to correct. At Northwestern Memorial Hospital, we aggressively treat spasticity to try to maintain or restore function while preventing complications associated with spasticity.