Muscle Spasticity Treatment in Pittsburgh, PA
What Is Spasticity?
Spasticity is a condition which causes continuous muscle contraction. It is characterized by uncontrollable muscle spasms and body movements, tight or stiff muscles, and chronic pain. It is mainly a symptom of conditions which impact brain or spinal cord function, such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.
Muscle spasticity can affect your ability to move and otherwise function unless properly treated. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Pittsburgh who specializes in muscle spasticity treatment, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Medical Wellness Associates online.
Causes of Spasticity
Causes of spasticity vary but are typically related to damaged nerves in the central nervous system which control voluntary movement. The damage causes an imbalance of signals sent from the central nervous system to the muscles of the body, leading to increased muscle activity, such as muscles contracting all at once.
This signal imbalance can be caused by several medical conditions, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Krabbe disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Hereditary spastic paraplegias
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Symptoms of Spasticity
Spasticity symptoms include pain and discomfort, as well as:
- Back pain
- Overactive reflexes
- Bone and joint deformities
- Involuntary leg crossing
- Abnormal posture and finger, wrist, arm, or shoulder positioning
Prolonged muscle spasticity may cause you to lose your ability to move your ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, or wrists. These symptoms can significantly decrease the quality of your life, making it difficult to take care of your hygiene, sleep properly, or even walk.
Risk factors that can trigger spasticity symptoms include:
- Tight-fitting clothing
- Extreme changes in humidity and temperature
Spasticity Treatment Options
There are various reasons to seek treatment for spasticity, including having:
- Spasticity for the first time
- Spasticity that is worsening
- Increased pain or discomfort
- Frozen joints
- Pressure sores
- Red skin
The various spasticity treatment options available can be divided into physical therapy, medical and surgical treatments. These treatments will focus on:
- Relieving the symptoms, pain, and muscle contractions of spasticity
- Improving voluntary motor functions, such as reaching, grasping, and moving
- Improving gait and the ability to perform daily activities
- Enabling a more normal muscle growth (if the patient is a child)
Physical Therapy & Lifestyle Modifications
Various exercises as well as performing daily stretches can help to lengthen the muscles to reduce the likelihood of spasticity. Your healthcare provider may also recommend temporary splinting or bracing to maintain range of motion and flexibility.
Lifestyle changes can also reduce the symptoms of spasticity and can include:
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoiding temperature extremes
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing
- Changing your posture every few hours
Oral medication for spasticity can include a number of muscle relaxers, nerve blockers, and sedatives, including:
Treating spasticity with medications can sometimes cause side effects, including fatigue, confusion, nausea, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. You should only begin taking spasticity medication under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
Alternative to traditional medication, BOTOX® injections are FDA-approved to treat upper and lower limb spasticity and is often more successful than oral medication. These injections usually take effect within seven to ten days and can last up to 12 to 16 weeks.
Surgery may be recommended if your symptoms have not responded to medication or other treatments. However, surgery is not an option for every case of spasticity and should always be used as a last resort.
The two primary surgeries used to treat spasticity are:
- Intrathecal baclofen (ITB): Used to treat severe cases of spasticity, baclofen is delivered directly to the spinal cord by a pump and catheter system. This procedure has fewer side effects than oral baclofen, and the results last longer.
- Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR): Used to treat severe spasticity in the legs, this operation removes specific nerve roots to decrease muscle stiffness. It is not a viable option for patients who have experienced diseases like meningitis, congenital brain infection, or severe scoliosis.
Orthopedic and neurosurgery can also be used to treat the muscle and skeletal system and the brain, spinal cord, and nerves respectfully.
If not treated, spasticity causes significant quality of life issues, including an inability to walk. To schedule an appointment with a healthcare practitioner in Pittsburgh who can help you with spasticity diagnosis and management, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Medical Wellness Associates online.
Medical Wellness Associates
Jeannette, PA 15644
8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm