What is Spasticity?

MSrelief logo - wChooseJoy - 133x75Spasticity refers to a wide range of involuntary muscle contractions that result in muscle spasms or stiffness. Spasticity interferes with the ability to control muscle movement and usually involves the muscles of the legs and/or arms.

Spasticity is inconsistent, depending on many factors, including infections, temperature, stress, pain, position and time of the day. Severe spasticity may cause decreased range of motion in the affected limbs over time.

Spasticity is the result of an imbalance in the central nervous system, caused by a trauma or disease in the brain and/or spinal cord. This imbalance causes hyperactive muscle stretch reflexes, which result in involuntary contractions.

Some doctors believe that an increased sensitivity in the parts of the muscles that are responsible for contracting (tightening), relaxing and stretching the muscles contribute to spasticity.

Have you ever experienced spasticity or know anyone who has? Is this a result of multiple sclerosis? Tell us about your experiences.
Linda Grace Cox


About our Co-Founder: With a bachelors in Social Work, Linda is 53 years old, happily married with eight children and 17 grandchildren. Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and now having accepted and truly embraced her new reality, Linda has created MSrelief.com. She is dedicated to proving that joy can be chosen while living with Multiple Sclerosis. Linda specializes in helping others, especially those with MS attain the lifestyle, independence and happiness amid living with MS.


  1. all the time! mostly i have it in my jaw… lots of spasms and twitchiness (is that a word?)… and my legs quite a bit… not so much in my arms yet but i do notice it from time to time in my hands… argh! i have noticed that it is increased proportionately with how tired i am….

  2. Everyday in my legs in every muscle from my butt to my ankles. My poor husband should wear shin guards to bed! I take Baclofen (10mg twice a day for now) and so far it’s working very well. It doesn’t make the spasticity totally go away but it does make it manageable and it stops the spasms.

    • Lisa~
      Goodness! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, MS is such an emotional roller coaster! If it’s not one thing it’s another! I hate it when I’m the one who gives reason to complain. Like you I have a fabulous husband who puts up with so much from me. In order to balance it out a little I have to find something to complain about (really in jest). He tosses and turns all night long, rolling away from me, and with every turn he take the blankets with him – away! A couple nights ago I rigged it up so in our queen size bed, I have my own blaket. For two nights I have slept with the covers on all night! 🙂
      ps. I hope the Baclofen keeps working! I know people who’ve been on it for years and it has continued to work!

  3. And that twitchiness where your leg twitches and sort of levitates while twitching? That’s not embarrassing at all.

  4. I had them so bad on the entire right side of my body that I ended up in the emergency room, they thought I was having a stroke. That is how I found out I have MS. Baclofen is controlling them for now, but I would say my case was extreme. They felt like a full body cramp on my right side that lasted 15 to 30 seconds and came about every 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. Kathleen,
    I had these today while I was driving. My thighs just tightened like my leg was in a vice or c clamp and someone was just tightening and tightening. Again because they come and go my doctor said that it is not a symptom of ms. I believe my first neuro dr told me the same thing. A emergency room doctor told my I had problems with seizures and watched me as my body contracted and then gave me ativan? The treatement for seizures that i supposedly had didnt work. I went to the neuro doctor and they did testing with lights and monitors on my head. I had alot of my body twitching and muscles contracting and after that visit I was extremely exhausted. But once again they dont know what I have and its definately not epileptic seizures.

    I am currently waiting for my 3rd neurologist appointment to see if they will allow me to have an Mri with dye and a lumbar puncture procedure to rule out what they think I do not have.

    • Kathleen,
      Goodness! It sounds so horrible! I didn’t realize how blessed I was to have had a quick diagnosis! It takes so long for many to take years before a diagnosis is found! I have a friend who was on MS medication and he was finally diagnosed with something else!

  6. Travis,
    I honestly wish I didn’t have such a reason to learn so much about MS! Seeing that I do, I will try to inform everyone about what I’m learning! Unfortunately I’m not able to research and report as quickly as I’d like! I rely on other people to set me straight when I’m leading people astray! The only thing I KNOW is that we can be happy, even with Multiple Sclerosis!

  7. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for Linda Grace Cox

  8. My arms ,legs and feet all day I take baclofen and it does help some I tremor less. Great read

    • Antoinette,
      I’m glad baclofen is helping! It helps some and not others! I’m using Ampyra and even though it wasn’t tested for spasticity, it is helping mine. Of course not completely, when I wake up in the morning my knees start knocking! I look forward to getting to know you!

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