Doctor examining a patient


Spasticity refers to inability of the muscle to relax and can occur due to a brain or spinal cord condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord compression, and spinocerebellar ataxia.

This can cause a sensation of pain, heaviness, weakness, or tightness and can limit free movement of the arms or legs because of impaired relaxation. Spasticity can also cause a gait abnormality where the legs get stuck together when walking, resulting in slower walking or even falls. Diagnosis typically requires a clinical exam, blood work and imaging of the brain and/or spinal cord. In certain cases a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) is required to assess for inflammation within the central nervous system.

Upper limb spasticity
Upper limb spasticity | Source: Xeomin

Spasticity of the upper or lower limbs can be treated utilizing muscle relaxant medications such as baclofen, tizandine (Xanaflex) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), but these medications can cause sedation/somnolence. Botulinum toxin injections can safely and effectively relax muscles in the upper or lower limbs without causing sedation or sleepiness. We utilize EMG guidance for optimal targeting of overactive muscles.

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Last updated: April 6, 2020