How to Manage Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis

How to Manage Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis

Coping with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can bring numerous challenges. One common issue affecting many MS patients is spasticity.

Although spasticity significantly impacts your life, a proactive approach and close collaboration with your healthcare team can help lessen its impact.

Watch the Video: How to Manage Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis

What is Spasticity?

The stiffening or tightening of muscles that impedes normal fluid movement. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) states that spasticity occurs when muscles remain contracted and resist being stretched, impacting movement, speech, and gait.

Statistics indicate that approximately 60–84% of people living with MS experience spasticity to varying degrees. This manifests as muscle spasms, tightness, and pain, significantly influencing day-to-day tasks and quality of life.

How to Manage Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis

Causes of Spasticity in MS

Spasticity in MS occurs due to damage to the myelin covering nerves that control movement. This damage disrupts nerve impulses, causing them to slow down or stop altogether, resulting in neurological problems.

Additionally, environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, humidity, or wearing tight clothing can sometimes trigger spasticity in individuals with MS.

How to Manage Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis

The Impact of Cold Weather

For many MS patients, spasticity tends to worsen in cold weather. Cold weather is one of the most common factors for worsening spasticity, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The cold can exacerbate muscle stiffness and tightness, making movement more challenging. Understanding and managing how this seasonal variation impacts you can be crucial in developing effective coping strategies.

How to Manage Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis

Spasticity vs. Spasms

It’s essential to differentiate between spasticity and spasms. While spasticity involves sustained muscle tightness and resistance to stretching, spasms are sudden, involuntary muscle contractions. Recognizing these differences can be vital in tailoring appropriate management approaches.

Tips for Managing MS Spasticity

Stretching: Incorporate regular stretching exercises to maintain muscle flexibility.

Regular Exercise:  Try engaging in a consistent exercise routine, focusing on suitable activities that promote mobility and strength.

Take Regular Breaks: Integrate breaks throughout the day to move and stretch, preventing muscle stiffness from setting in.

Set Alarms: Use alarms at regular intervals to remind yourself to stand up, move around, and perform gentle stretches.

Work with Qualified Therapists: Collaborate with a physical or occupational therapist to strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility, and adapt activities to help reduce spasticity.

Electric Stimulators: Consult your rehabilitation team about the potential benefits of electric stimulators for managing spasticity.

Medication: Discuss supplemental medicines with your doctor to help ease spasticity symptoms.

Identify Triggers: Work closely with your healthcare team to identify specific triggers for your spasticity and develop strategies to minimize their impact.

Managing spasticity in MS is a multifaceted process that requires a personalized approach. By incorporating these tips and working closely with your healthcare team, you can take proactive steps toward alleviating the impact of spasticity on your daily life, ultimately enhancing your overall well-being.

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