Spasticity, also called hypertonicity, causes increased tone in the muscles and stiffness or tightness. As a result, patients with spasticity have difficulty using the affected muscles in a controlled or functional way. Muscle spasticity can be localized to one part of the body, or it can be generalized, affecting speech and swallowing. Sometimes there is an additional component called dystonia, which causes abnormal postures or twisting of the affected muscles.
Common Spasticity Causes
- Brain Injury
- Infant Cerebral Palsy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal Cord Injury
How Spasticity Can Affect Children
In some children, spasticity can actually help with standing or walking, just by increasing the tone of an otherwise weak muscle. Too much spasticity, however, can restrict the voluntary use of a muscle and limit functional movement.
Sometimes, a movement as simple as walking becomes difficult because the increased tone causes the legs not to bend or move as the child intends. Other times, the contraction of the muscle is so severe and so constant that it causes the joints to become rigid or fixed in one place, which can result in many complications.
Left untreated, spasticity can cause:
- Chronic Pain
- Hip Dislocations
- Severe Orthopedic Deformity
- Skin Breakdown
- Weight Loss
Fortunately, there are many spasticity treatment options that can help.