Spasticity is a word used to describe weakness and stiffness of muscles, often with painful spasms (cramps). It is caused by damage to the normal function of the brain and spinal cord in controlling muscle tone and activity.

Causes of spasticity

Spasticity can be caused in a number of ways, through diseases of the nervous system such as MS, or as a result of an injury to the brain or spinal cord, or it can be present from birth.

Spasticity caused by MS can be a big problem for people with the disease.1 It is one of the most common problems people with MS experience: 84% report symptoms of spasticity, ranging from minimal to severe.2 These symptoms are experienced in different ways by different people.

Some symptoms of spasticity are highlighted in the table below.2

Symptom % currently experiencing symptom
Fatigue (tiredness) 86
Bladder or bowel problems 66
Balance problems 73
Muscle weakness 69
Visual problems Not available
Pain 54
Muscle stiffness 64
Muscle spasms 51
Spasticity (stiffness or spasm or both) 74
Numbness/tingling 64