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Spasticity is the common term for a stiff or unrelaxed muscle, sometimes called increased muscle tone. It is common after any injury to the central nervous system. The severing or crushing of the spinal cord may disrupt the transmission of signals from the brain to the muscles, causing spasms and exaggerated reflexes in the limbs.
While there is no way to definitively say which spinal cord injuries will cause spasticity, the symptoms generally depend on the extent of damage to the cord. If the cord has been partially damaged (incomplete injury), symptoms may be mild or temporary, while severe damage to the entire spinal cord (complete injury) may result in difficulty walking, moving, or even speaking voluntarily.
Muscle spasticity may be present after any one of the following injuries:
- Severe head injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain damage caused hypoxia
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative illnesses
Spasticity can cause a number of complications for a patient. Most notably, it can cause extreme pain if the patient cannot correct his posture or keep his balance on his own. The loss of functional ability on one or both sides of the body can put a patient at risk of pressure sores or serious infection. If spasticity is severe, it can also interfere with a patient’s sleep patterns—causing insomnia, irritability, and depression.
Extreme muscle spasticity can be a serious health risk. Some patients have experienced uncontrollable movements that have placed them in danger, such as falling into roadways or suddenly slamming their heads backward into objects. In these cases, patients can be treated with Botox injections to immobilize their muscles and given pain killers to control chronic pain.
If you are not sure how to cope with a loved one’s medical bills after a spinal cord injury, call our offices today or browse our related links to find out how we can help you.