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Understanding and Managing Spasticity


Submitted by Vitality Physical Medicine


As we navigate the journey of aging, our bodies undergo various changes, and health concerns become increasingly prevalent. One such medical condition that may affect individuals is spasticity.


What Is Spasticity?

Spasticity is a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty controlling muscles. It often manifests in tight or stiff muscles, with certain muscle groups involuntarily contracting and tensing up.


Causes of Spasticity

Spasticity is caused by disorders or injuries affecting the central nervous system. The disruption in communication between the brain and muscles results in muscles not knowing when to appropriately contract or relax. This leads to difficulties in performing simple movements or tasks.


Conditions Associated With Spasticity

Spasticity is commonly observed in individuals who have suffered a stroke. Spasticity can also occur in patients with multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebral palsy (CP), or spinal cord injury.

It is crucial not to wait if you suspect spasticity in yourself or a loved one. Seeking evaluation and treatment promptly is essential to managing the condition effectively and preventing more permanent contracture.


Recognizing the Symptoms of Spasticity

Patients with spasticity may experience sudden muscle spasms, tight or stiff muscles, rapid muscle contractions, and difficulty moving limbs. The symptoms can vary, but if you or your loved one is experiencing any of these signs, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with a physician who specializes in treating spasticity. Dr. Joseph Brooks, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with over 12 years of experience, treats adult patients with spasticity at his clinic, Vitality Physical Medicine, in Davenport, Iowa.


Effects on Daily Life

Spasticity can significantly impact daily activities, making simple tasks such as dressing or even walking, challenging and sometimes nearly impossible. Patients may describe the sensations as cramping, stiffness, tingling, or shaking.


When Does Spasticity Occur After a Stroke or TBI?

Spasticity can manifest shortly after a stroke or traumatic brain injury, or it may develop weeks or months later. Early intervention is key to better treatment outcomes which is why Dr. Brooks offers quick appointment times for patients who suspect they may have spasticity.


Diagnosing and Treating Spasticity

Diagnosing spasticity involves physical tests evaluating nerve and muscle activity. Dr. Brooks offers various treatment options, including prescriptions for physical and occupational therapy, and therapeutic Botox® injections, performed under EMG-guidance.


Consequences of Untreated Spasticity

Leaving spasticity untreated can lead to worsening symptoms over time and may result in contracture—a condition where a joint becomes permanently fixed due to stiff muscles. Seeking evaluation and treatment as soon as possible is crucial to prevent further complications.


           Dr. Brooks is dedicated to helping patients regain function and quality of life by providing effective treatment options. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment by calling 563-424-6400 or going to the online scheduling tool at www.VitalityPhysicalMedicine.com.