Spasticity after stroke

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  • November 3, 2010

After suffering a stroke, many people experience post-stroke spasticity, which is a muscle control disorder that is characterized by tight or stiff muscles and an inability to control those muscles. It impairs not only the mobility, but also impacts the life of their family and caregivers.

Depending on where it occurs, it can result in an arm being pressed against the chest, which can seriously interfere with the ability to perform daily activities such as dressing. One may also suffer from spasticity in the leg, which may cause a stiff knee or a pointed foot and curling of the toes that interferes with walking. It can also be accompanied by painful muscle.

Spasticity is like a “wicked charley horse” Brain injury from stroke sometimes causes muscles to involuntarily contract (shorten or flex) when trying to move limbs, creating stiffness and tightness.

Several tests can help confirm the diagnosis. These tests would evaluate your arm and leg movements, muscular activity, passive and active range of motion, and ability to perform self-care activities.

Healthcare providers will therefore consider the severity of spasticity, overall health, and other factors to prescribe an appropriate treatment plan for an individual. This treatment is often a combination of therapy and medicine, including:

Physical exercise and stretching
Stretching helps you to maintain the full range of motion and helps you to prevent permanent muscle shortening.

Braces can help you to hold a muscle in a normal position to keep it from contracting.

Oral Medications
Several oral medications are available that can help relax the nerves so that they do not send a continuous message to the muscles to contract. NeuroAiD™ has been shown to reduce muscle spasticity in stroke patients.

Intrathecal baclofen therapy (ITB)
It consists of long-term delivery of baclofen to the intrathecal space. This treatment can be very effective for patients with severe spasticity, particularly for whose conditions are not sufficiently managed by oral baclofen and other oral medications. A small pump is surgically implanted which supplies baclofen to the spinal chord.

Some medications can be injected to block nerves and help relieve spasticity in a particular muscle group, like botulinum toxin (BOTOX etc.) or phenol. This treatment weakens or paralyses the overactive muscle. Side effects are minimized, but you may feel sore where injected.

This is the last option to treat spasticity. It can be done on the brain or the muscles and joints. Surgery may block pain and restore some movements.

Talk with your doctor about the treatments that may be most effective for you. Every individual responds differently to the various treatments.

To know more, read the testimonial of Tom Schneider and Derell Schooley and discover how NeuroAiD™ helped them to reduce the spasticity on

Meanwhile, mild exercises which should be undertaken everyday can take the form of a short walk or a simple activity like sweeping the floor.

National Stroke Sssociation
American Stroke Association
Movement Disorder Virtual University


  • Richard says:

    Baclofen did not help in removing my spacity. All it did was make my mussels weak where I couldn’t have the strength to transfer out of my wheelchair.therefore I don’t reccomend it.

  • Derry says:

    I am2and1/2 years post hemorrhagic stroke, and have severe spasticity with toe cramping. As recomended by
    My Dr. i tried Baclofen and it made the spasticity worse, it made it twice as bad, this was a rare Side affect. I now am afraid to try any muscle relaxants.

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