Spasticity

After a stroke or any other permanent injury to the brain or spinal cord (e.g. spinal trauma, multiple sclerosis, etc.), spasticity can develop in arms or legs. This can cause pain, joint deformity and contractures. Traditionally, we use medicines to reduce spasticity, but those can cause fatigue and generalized weakness. Botulinum Toxin injections can be an effective treatment option which avoids the fatigue that accompanies many other spasticity medications. Our Chicago area neurologic Botox clinic provides expert, effective spasticity treatment.

What is Spasticity?

Spasticity occurs when there is an increase in muscle stiffness and muscle movement patterns. This leads to muscles contracting simultaneously. Spasticity most often occurs in the legs, but can also affect the arms. This may lead to issues with movement, speech or daily comfort.

Spasticity is typically caused when nerve pathways become damaged. These nerves are then unable to properly regulate muscle movement. Spasticity may be connected to any of the following conditions:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stroke
  • Trauma to the head or brain
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Hereditary spastic paraplegias
  • Some metabolic diseases including adrenoleukodystrophy, phenylketonuria, and Krabbe disease

Spasticity Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Involuntary movements, including isolated spasms or a series of involuntary contractions
  • Exaggerated tendon reflexes
  • Fixed joints due to severe stiffness and spasms
  • Abnormal posture

The degree of spasticity varies significantly from person to person. One may experience mild muscle stiffness, with another experiencing severe, prolonged muscle spasms they cannot control. Working with a neurologist will allow you to learn more about your spasticity, and the appropriate treatment option. Spasticity often impacts daily life and comfort.

Spasticity Treatment Options in Chicago

Botulinum toxin injection in specifically troublesome muscles in spastic patients is FDA approved and can be a very effective treatment, without the side effects of generalized fatigue and drug sedation. Usually, we perform botulinum chemodenervation at regular intervals, in conjunction with physical or occupational therapy.

Botulinum toxin is also used for abnormal spasms of the eye (blepharospasm) or facial muscles (hemifacial spasms). It is also used for abnormal spasms in the jaw (oromandibular dystonia).

Other treatment options may include prescription medication or a physical therapy regimen to improve symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended.