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Thread: simple question what is the difference between spasticity and spasms?

  1. #1

    simple question what is the difference between spasticity and spasms?

    Is spasticity just the condition of having constant spasms?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Spasticity is the tightness or stiffness caused by your muscles continually contracting. A spasm is the sudden involuntary movement of muscles.
    Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know that, so it goes on flying anyways--Mary Kay Ash

  3. #3
    Not really.

    Spasms refer to jerks and twitches caused by the sudden, uncontrollable contraction of muscles.

    Spasticity, also known as tone, is when muscles are in a constant state of tension and rigidity.
    It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

    ~Julius Caesar


  4. #4
    I thought I would add a few thoughts because this comes up for me. I was told spasms are a subset of spasticity, although many (including a few docs) used them as meaning the same thing. Wikepedia states: Spasticity or muscular hypertonicity is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which certain muscles continually receive a message to tighten and contract. The nerves leading to those muscles, unable to regulate themselves (which would provide for normal muscle tone), permanently and continually "over-fire" these commands to tighten and contract. This causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and interferes with gait and movement, and sometimes speech. A spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles,[1] or a hollow organ, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It is sometimes accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes.
    [I thought the latter was funny- usually harmless... Well, guess the author doesn't know how painful spasms can be :-)]

    I also found this paragraph explaining spasticity is not the same in SCI as it is in brain injury. I have been told my spasticity is helpful in that it prevents atrophy.

    "Spasticity from spinal cord injury is actually different than spasticity found in persons who have suffered stroke, brain injury, or cerebral palsy. In spinal cord injury, it is frequently described as spasms. Flexor spasms occur more frequently than extensor spasms. Because the cause of the increase in muscle tone is different in spinal cord injury, it may be treated with some medications not used in spasticity of other origins."Spasticity may have some benefits. It prevents muscle Atrophy or decrease in muscle size. That is why people with upper motor lesions usually maintain their muscle bulk. Spasticity may help to control swelling in feet and may also lock weak muscles into place to make transfers or weight bearing easier.
    Last edited by med100; 01-01-2010 at 10:02 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by med100 View Post
    I thought I would add a few thoughts because this comes up for me. I was told spasms are a subset of spasticity, although many (including a few docs) used them as meaning the same thing. Wikepedia states: Spasticity or muscular hypertonicity is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which certain muscles continually receive a message to tighten and contract. The nerves leading to those muscles, unable to regulate themselves (which would provide for normal muscle tone), permanently and continually "over-fire" these commands to tighten and contract. This causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and interferes with gait and movement, and sometimes speech. A spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles,[1] or a hollow organ, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It is sometimes accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes.
    [I thought the latter was funny- usually harmless... Well, guess the author doesn't know how painful spasms can be :-)]


    I also found this paragraph explaining spasticity is not the same in SCI as it is in brain injury. I have been told my spasticity is helpful in that it prevents atrophy.

    "Spasticity from spinal cord injury is actually different than spasticity found in persons who have suffered stroke, brain injury, or cerebral palsy. In spinal cord injury, it is frequently described as spasms. Flexor spasms occur more frequently than extensor spasms. Because the cause of the increase in muscle tone is different in spinal cord injury, it may be treated with some medications not used in spasticity of other origins."Spasticity may have some benefits. It prevents muscle Atrophy or decrease in muscle size. That is why people with upper motor lesions usually maintain their muscle bulk. Spasticity may help to control swelling in feet and may also lock weak muscles into place to make transfers or weight bearing easier.
    Oh I have lower spinal injury L3 and L5 burst fractures and I do not have spasms but my leg muscles have shrunk significantly over six years even though I walk around. Is there any way to increase the muscle?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Riaan's Avatar
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    im getting spasms in my stomach area,have always had in my legs,is it ok or should i worry

  7. #7
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
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    i use the tone in my legs to help transfers, it takes a little practice and you can actually learn to control it a little by finding ways to trigger it and get it to relax. when i get spasms it is usually something bothering/irritating me like bladder getting full, not drinking enough water, sores, not stretching enough, and stuff like that.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by med100 View Post
    I thought I would add a few thoughts because this comes up for me. I was told spasms are a subset of spasticity, although many (including a few docs) used them as meaning the same thing. Wikepedia states: Spasticity or muscular hypertonicity is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which certain muscles continually receive a message to tighten and contract. The nerves leading to those muscles, unable to regulate themselves (which would provide for normal muscle tone), permanently and continually "over-fire" these commands to tighten and contract. This causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and interferes with gait and movement, and sometimes speech. A spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles,[1] or a hollow organ, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It is sometimes accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes.
    [I thought the latter was funny- usually harmless... Well, guess the author doesn't know how painful spasms can be :-)]

    I also found this paragraph explaining spasticity is not the same in SCI as it is in brain injury. I have been told my spasticity is helpful in that it prevents atrophy.

    "Spasticity from spinal cord injury is actually different than spasticity found in persons who have suffered stroke, brain injury, or cerebral palsy. In spinal cord injury, it is frequently described as spasms. Flexor spasms occur more frequently than extensor spasms. Because the cause of the increase in muscle tone is different in spinal cord injury, it may be treated with some medications not used in spasticity of other origins."Spasticity may have some benefits. It prevents muscle Atrophy or decrease in muscle size. That is why people with upper motor lesions usually maintain their muscle bulk. Spasticity may help to control swelling in feet and may also lock weak muscles into place to make transfers or weight bearing easier.
    med100,

    Thanks for the information. I agree with much of it. Spasms are involuntary movements, frequently involving multiple joints. Spasticity is increased muscle tension (stiffness or resistance) to movement of limbs, increased and of repetitive (i.e. clonus) reflexes in response to stimulus.

    Baclofen is effective for mild to moderate spasticity. It is not effective for spasms until high doses are given. Likewise tizanidine (Zanaflex) is also effective for spasticity. Because they work on different mechanisms, the two can be used together for severe spasticity.

    For very severe spasticity, intrathecal baclofen may be necessary. Administered to the cerebral spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord, this will reduce or stabilize every very severe spasticity that is not responsive to any other medication.

    Note the muscle relaxants such as benzodiazepines (valium, etc.) are effective in reducing spasms but tend to make people sleepy, are addictive, and may have deleterious effects on memory. I don't recommend these for routine use, except perhaps for sleep.

    From this forum, I learned that gabapentin (or neurontin) reduces spasms. Several clinical trials have confirmed this. Many people may notice that when they are taking gabapentin for neuropathic pain, their spasms decrease. Also, when they go off gabapentin, their spasms increase.

    If people are interested, I can write about the neurophysiological mechanisms of spasticity and spasms.

    Wise.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Riaan's Avatar
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    its just very irritating,every time i move my chest feel like its pulls together and vibrate for about 30 secs.and this have only been happening the last 2/3 days but constant

  10. #10
    I am sure they would like to hear more about the neurophysiology of spasticity
    CWO

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