Hand Spasticity

Also known as:  muscle spasticity, elbow spasticity, forearm spasticity, wrist spasticity, hand spasticity, flexion contractures, hand in cerebral palsy/stroke/traumatic brain injury.

What is upper extremity spasticity?

Upper extremity spasticity refers to increased muscle tone and hyperactive reflexes in the arm. It is usually due to a problem with motor nerves in the brain, and can be caused by cerebral palsy, stroke or traumatic brain injury.

What causes upper extremity spasticity?

As noted above, upper extremity spasticity occurs from damage to upper motor nerves (in the brain). It is frequently the result of another medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, stroke, or traumatic brain injury.

What are the symptoms of upper extremity spasticity?

Spasticity of the upper extremity ranges from mild to very disabling. The affected muscles may be over-active and cause joint contractures (stiff joints). The most common presentation includes a flexed elbow and clenched fist, with forearm rotated away from the patient and wrist flexed. The position of the weak and spastic arm/hand creates a functional, hygenic and cosmetic problem.

What are upper extremity spasticity care options?

Therapy, medication and surgery are usually used together to address upper extremity spasticity.

In all patients with upper extremity spasticity, therapy to prevent contractures (tight joints) is necessary.

  • Therapy for spasticity includes stretching tight muscles and joints, strengthening weakened muscles and using splints to improve and maintain good joint position.
  • Medication can also be prescribed to treat spasticity.
  • Surgery can be considered to improve mobility, self-care, hygiene, and the appearance of the affected arm/hand, but is usually only a part of the care plan.

Reviewed by: Aaron J. Berger

This page was last updated on: January 14, 2020 09:18 AM

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