What are the causes and remedies for spasticity?

Symptom Database

Spasticity is a condition characterized by muscle stiffness and involuntary muscle contractions. It can affect both adults and children, causing discomfort and impairing daily activities. Understanding the causes and remedies for spasticity is crucial in managing and treating this condition effectively.

Spasticity Causes

Spasticity can have various underlying causes, including:

  • Brain or spinal cord injuries: Traumatic brain injuries or damage to the spinal cord can disrupt the normal communication between the brain and muscles, leading to spasticity.
  • Stroke: When blood flow to the brain is interrupted, it can result in a stroke. This can damage the areas of the brain responsible for muscle control, leading to spasticity.
  • Cerebral palsy: This is a neurological disorder that affects movement and muscle coordination. Spasticity is a common symptom of cerebral palsy.
  • Multiple sclerosis: This autoimmune disease affects the central nervous system, causing damage to the protective covering of nerve fibers. Spasticity can occur as a result.
  • Spinal cord conditions: Conditions such as spinal cord tumors, infections, or degenerative diseases can lead to spasticity.

Spasticity Symptoms

The symptoms of spasticity can vary depending on the severity and location of the muscle stiffness. Common symptoms include:

  • Muscle tightness and stiffness
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Difficulty with movement and coordination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Joint stiffness

Spasticity Relief

While spasticity cannot be completely cured, there are several treatment options available to provide relief and improve quality of life. These include:


Medications such as muscle relaxants, antispasmodics, and botulinum toxin injections can help reduce muscle stiffness and spasms associated with spasticity. These medications work by targeting the nerve signals that cause the muscles to contract involuntarily.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing spasticity. Therapists can design specific exercises and stretches to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. They may also use techniques such as heat therapy or electrical stimulation to relax the muscles and reduce spasticity.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on improving daily activities and functional abilities. Therapists can teach individuals with spasticity techniques to conserve energy, use assistive devices, and modify their environment to make tasks easier to perform.


Orthotic devices, such as braces or splints, can help support weak or spastic muscles, improve alignment, and enhance mobility. These devices are custom-made to fit the individual’s specific needs and can provide stability and relief from spasticity symptoms.

Spasticity Management

Managing spasticity involves a comprehensive approach that combines various strategies. Some effective management techniques include:

Stretching Exercises

Regular stretching exercises can help improve muscle flexibility and reduce spasticity. It is important to consult with a physical therapist to learn proper stretching techniques and avoid injury.

Stress Management

Stress can exacerbate spasticity symptoms. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga can help manage spasticity and promote relaxation.

Assistive Devices

Using assistive devices such as canes, walkers, or wheelchairs can provide support and improve mobility for individuals with spasticity. These devices can help reduce the strain on muscles and joints, making daily activities easier to perform.

Healthy Lifestyle

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on spasticity management. This includes maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and ensuring an adequate amount of sleep. These factors contribute to overall well-being and can help reduce spasticity symptoms.

Spasticity in Adults vs. Children

Spasticity can affect both adults and children, but there are some differences in how it manifests and is managed:

Spasticity in Adults

In adults, spasticity is often a result of conditions such as stroke, brain or spinal cord injuries, or multiple sclerosis. Treatment options may include medication, physical therapy, and assistive devices. Adults may also benefit from lifestyle modifications to manage spasticity effectively.

Spasticity in Children

In children, spasticity is commonly associated with cerebral palsy. Early intervention is crucial in managing spasticity in children. Treatment may involve a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, medication, and orthotic devices. The goal is to improve motor skills and promote independence in daily activities.

In conclusion, spasticity is a condition characterized by muscle stiffness and involuntary muscle contractions. It can be caused by various factors such as brain or spinal cord injuries, stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord conditions. While spasticity cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed through a combination of medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and lifestyle modifications. By understanding the causes and remedies for spasticity, individuals can take proactive steps to alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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