More MS news articles for June 2002

Spasticity in multiple sclerosis

Encephalos, Volume 39, Issue 2, April-June 2002
Effrosyni Koutsouraki

In the normal nervous system, muscle groups work in coordination.

Therefore whenever the agonist muscle contract the antonist is relaxed.

In MS, this system of balance can be disordered so that opposing muscles contract and relax at the same time inducing spasticity.

Spasticity tends to occur most frequently in anti-gravity or postural muscles.

When spasticity is present the increased stiffness of the muscles needs great deal of energy in performing everyday activities.

The reduction of the spasticity results in greater freedom of movement and strength, frequently accompanied by less fatigue and increased coordination.

The major ways by which spasticity is reduced include strechting exercise, physical therapy and the use of drugs.

The current medication includes baclofen, tizanidine, sodium dantrolene, diazepam, clonazepam, cyclobenzaprine HCL, carbamezapine and cortisone.

A contracture is a "freezing" of a joint so that it can no longer bend through its full range of motion.

It occurs when the joint has not been kept in motion for long time, usually as the result of spasticity.

If a joint does develop a contracture, it becomes useless and often painful.Generally the consistent use of an exercise program and the appropriate use of drugs when needed will increase significantly the level of function and minimize the occurrence of severe problems.