Spasticity Causes, Symptoms & Challenges

Spasticity is a state of increased muscle tone. That might sound like a good thing, but it’s not. Increased muscle tone can cause involuntary movements, or limit movement. Some people with spasticity experience sudden, uncontrollable movements. Others find it difficult to move their arms or legs the way they’d like. Still others have a hard time moving their extremities at all because prolonged muscle contraction can “freeze” the muscles in position.

Symptoms of Spasticity

Everyone experiences spasticity differently. Symptoms may vary from person to person and day to day. The most common symptoms of spasticity are:

  • Tight, stiff muscles
  • Rapid muscle contractions
  • Exaggerated deep tendon reflexes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Involuntary crossing of the legs
  • Fixed joints
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Pain

Causes of Spasticity

Spasticity is usually caused by some sort of damage to the nerve pathways between the brain or spinal cord and muscles. Some of the most common causes of spasticity are:

Spasticity can occur at any time. Some people develop spasticity early in their disease process; others develop it later on.

Spasticity can be a symptom or complication of certain movement disorders as well.

Challenges Associated with Spasticity

Individuals with spasticity have a hard time with muscle spasms or involuntary movements of their body. Some people experience only minimal limitations, while other people with spasticity are unable to dress or eat without great difficulty.

Spasticity is only a problem when it begins to interfere with life. A tight muscle, in and of itself, is not a cause for concern. But if spasticity is interfering with movement or speech, or causing discomfort or pain, it’s time to seek medical attention. Treatment for cerebral palsy (CP), multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury, stroke and brain injury may be improved by alleviating spasticity symptoms, The experts at the Comprehensive Spasticity Management Program can help you find ways to improve movement and function while minimizing discomfort and pain.


For spasticity management:

  • 414-805-8710
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Neurosciences Center, Froedtert Hospital 9200 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

Spasticity Management Locations