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Spasticity

After spinal cord injury the nerve cells below the level of injury become disconnected from the brain. Following the period of spinal shock changes occur in the nerve cells that control muscle activity. Spasticity is an exaggeration of the normal reflexes that occur when the body is stimulated in certain ways. After spinal cord injury, when nerves below the injury become disconnected from those above, these responses become exaggerated.

Muscle spasms, or spasticity, can occur any time the body is stimulated below the injury. This is particularly noticeable when muscles are stretched or when there is something irritating the body below the injury. Pain, stretch, or other sensations from the body are transmitted to the spinal cord. Because of the disconnection, these sensations will cause the muscles to contract or spasm.

Almost anything can trigger spasticity. Some things, however, can make spasticity more of a problem. A bladder infection or kidney infection will often cause spasticity to increase a great deal. A skin breakdown will also increase spasms. In a person who does not perform regular range of motion exercises, muscles and joints become less flexible and almost any minor stimulation can cause severe spasticity.

Some spasticity may always be present. The best way to manage or reduce excessive spasms is to perform a daily range of motion exercise program. Avoiding situations such as bladder infections, skin breakdowns, or injuries to the feet and legs will also reduce spasticity. There are three primary medications used to treat spasticity, baclofen, Valium, and Dantrium. All have some side effects and do not completely eliminate spasticity.

There are some benefits to spasticity. It can serve as a warning mechanism to identify pain or problems in areas where there is no sensation. Many people know when a urinary tract infection is coming on by the increase in muscle spasms. Spasticity also helps to maintain muscle size and bone strength. It does not replace walking, but it does help to some degree in preventing osteoporosis. Spasticity helps maintain circulation in the lefts. IT can be used to improve certain functional activities such as performing transfers or walking with braces. For these reasons, treatment is usually started only when spasticity interferes with sleep or limits an individual's functional capacity.

Skin Breakdown
pneumonia
Osteoporosis and Fractures
Heterotopic Ossification
Spasticity
Urinary Tract Infections
Autonomic Dysreflexia
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Pulmonary Embolism
Orthostatic Hypotension
Cardiovascular Disease
Syringomyelia
Neuropathic / Spinal Cord Pain
Medication Problems
Hyperthermia
Hypothermia


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Spinal-Injury.net :  Spinal Cord Injury - Spasticity

 
 

 
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