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Spasticity most often develops in upper motor neuron types of injuries. It is a motor disorder defined as velocity dependent, increased resistance to passive muscle stretch. It is an exaggeration of the stretch reflex due to hyperexcitability of spinal reflexes.

Recent/Sudden development of spasticity or increased intensity may be due to underlying contributing factors. Thus, evaluate and treat as indicated.

Treatment of chronic spasticity is sometimes neither needed nor desired by patients with spinal cord injury due to the potential health and functional advantages of spasticity. In contrast, consequences of untreated spasticity may negatively impact the patient's function or medical condition and, therefore, a need for subsequent treatment.

Common oral agents present the least invasive intervention and may be effective alone or in combination with multidisciplinary approaches.

  • Baclofen
  • Tizanidine
  • Bezodiazepines
  • Dantrolene

Referral for additional intervention methods may be appropriate to enhance treatment outcome

Expectation for treatment outcome is management (maximum reduction) of chronic spasticity to improve function. Elimination is rare.



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The University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System provides this website as an auxiliary resource for the primary care of patients with spinal cord injury.The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90SIMS0020). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.