To treat your spasticity, your doctor will want to know how it impacts your life. Those muscle contractions come with a host of other symptoms that can be tough to manage, such as pain, trouble controlling limbs, muscle shortening, and more.

But there can be positive effects of spasticity, too. For some people, muscle rigidity actually helps with movement and posture. When symptoms get worse, it could help alert you to other health problems you may otherwise miss, such as infection.

Understanding spasticity will guide you and your doctor in creating a treatment plan that relieves your symptoms just enough to keep the helpful aspects of the condition in place. 

Here are some of the ways spasticity could help.

Tool to Help You Move

When your muscles are loose, you don’t have stiffness to help you stand or transfer to change positions. Rigid muscles help you stand, walk, pinch, and grip. Sometimes spasticity gives you just enough contraction to make these movements so you can function more independently. With rigid muscles, it can be easier to move yourself from a chair to a bed, for example, without the help of another person. Spasticity can be a stand-in for force when you need to use strength. Often, stiffness in your muscles can make it easier to hold certain positions and use good posture.

Spasticity can also help strengthen your muscles, maintain muscle mass and tone, and prevent muscle wasting.

A Beacon of Body Awareness

Infection, such as a bladder infection, lung infection, or other illness, is a common trigger for spasticity. It’s possible to have no other symptoms when you have an infection, so spasticity that’s gotten worse can serve as an early warning sign that something is wrong in your body. You can let your doctor know that something seems off, and they can do tests to see what might be going on.

Another trigger for spasticity is skin irritation or breakdown of your skin. If you notice an uptick in your spasticity symptoms, it could be a sign that something you’re wearing is too tight or that you have an irritant affecting your skin somewhere.

Bone and Blood Booster

Research is ongoing, but experts think spasticity could help improve your circulation. This helps prevent problems like blood clots that typically form in the legs but can move to the lungs. Good circulation also helps you avoid swelling in your tissues.

Spasticity may also lower your risk of osteoporosis, a condition that weakens your bones.

Most people have a mixture of good, bad, and neutral effects of spasticity. The key to living well with it is to find a balance between managing the challenging symptoms and embracing the helpful ones, so you function at your best in your daily life.

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Show Sources

Photo Credit: Ekaterina Budinovskaya

SOURCES:

Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System: “Spasticity and Spinal Cord Injury.”

The University of Alabama at Birmingham: “Spasticity - Advantages.”

Pittsburgh Institute for Multiple Sclerosis Care and Research: “Spasticity.”

MS Trust: “Spasticity Triggers.”

Medscape: “What are the possible benefits of spasticity?”