What's muscle spasticity?
Spasticity is an abnormal muscular hyperactivity with increase in muscle tone (rigidity), and sustained muscle contractions (spasm), caused by damage to the central nervous system. Spasticity is a disorder of the body's motor system in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. This contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and may interfere with gait, movement, and speech. Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. It may occur in association with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, anoxic brain damage, brain trauma, severe head injury, some metabolic diseases such as adrenoleukodystrophy, and phenylketonuria. Symptoms may include hypertonicity (increased muscle tone), clonus (a series of rapid muscle contractions), exaggerated deep tendon reflexes, muscle spasms, scissoring (involuntary crossing of the legs), and fixed joints. The degree of spasticity varies from mild muscle stiffness to severe, painful, and uncontrollable muscle spasms. The condition can interfere with rehabilitation in patients with certain disorders, and often interferes with daily activities. Muscle tone is necessary to maintain normal posture. A patient may use a small increase in muscle tone to stand, and transfer from bed to chair. As spasticity worsens, the muscle tightness increases as the patient tries to move, the limbs and body jerk involuntarily, causing pain, and interfering with mobility, sleep, and care.