A condition that affects mobility and causes disabling pain
What is it?
Spasticity is due to an exaggerated contraction of the muscle reflex which is triggered by stretching the muscle. This hypertonia is caused by disinhibition of the myotatic reflex (the reflex that contracts the muscle in response to stretching it) following damage to the brain or spinal cord. The term spasticity is used to describe all muscular activity secondary to central nervous system damage.
The increase in muscle tone can be very disabling and cause continuous and sometimes very powerful contraction at rest, and extremely intense contractions in response to the slightest stimulation. It may become impossible to straighten out the limb, creating motor difficulties and pain for patients.
Complications can vary. When spasticity is severe, changes to the muscular structure take place over time (muscular retraction or contracture), which are difficult to differentiate from the actual spasticity itself. Movement and balance problems, shaking, pain, inhibition of growth in children, and impacts on quality-of-life are also possible.