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The Unknown Stroke Side Effect: Spasticity

July 3, 2018

Imagine your fist is tightly closed and you can’t open it. You can’t open a jar, write, or turn a doorknob. Now imagine living with this condition for months or even years. This is spasticity in a nutshell.

Spasticity is a tightening of muscles in the limbs caused by neurological conditions. It affects the central nervous system and is most often found in people who have suffered from stroke, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. The real tragedy is that this neurological disorder is often overlooked or misdiagnosed, resulting in complications that can worsen over time.

For up to 365,000 Canadians living with this condition, it can be painful. Combine that with the inability to engage in day-to-day activities, and spasticity can seem insurmountable. Untreated spasticity can also lead to complications such as joint tightening and skin breakdown.

But spasticity can be treated, giving patients the ability to get their lives back on track. The key is to get even more doctors to recognize the condition and encourage their patients to seek treatment.

Signs and symptoms of spasticity

  • A person with spasticity will describe muscle stiffness in the affected limb(s)
  • Spasticity can impact active function when a patient is trying to do things independently
  • Spasticity in the arm muscles can result in difficulty extending the arm in activities such as reaching out to open a door
  • Spasticity in finger muscles can result in difficulty opening the fingers in order to grasp objects like a cup of coffee
  • Spasticity in the arms or the legs can result in difficulty putting on clothes
  • Spasticity in the leg muscles can make movement difficult and impact walking ability
  • Spasticity can also affect passive function when a caregiver is trying to help the patient
  • Spasticity can make movement difficult for caregivers in providing help with day to day activities
  • Cleaning and maintaining hygiene can be very difficult for example if the fingers are closed shut as a result of spasticity in the muscles that control hand movements
  • Spasticity can result in extreme difficulty for the caregiver to maneuver the arms and legs in order to provide assistance
  • Spasticity can also cause pain at rest or during movements that require the stretching of the tight muscles
  • Spasticity can result in skin problems as well as shortening of muscles especially in patients that do not receive appropriate treatment

Via The Star