Spasticity and Contractures

Also known as: joint contractures, flexion contractures, muscle tightness and stiffness, muscle contractions.

What are spasticity and contractures?

Spasticity and contractures are conditions in which muscle imbalance across a joint leads to abnormal positioning and tightness. Spasticity refers to involuntary tightening or stiffening of muscles. The term contracture refers to abnormal positioning of a joint.

What causes spasticity and contractures?

A number of neurologic conditions can lead to spasticity of the upper extremity, including cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and injuries or tumors of the brain and spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of spasticity and contractures?

Affected limbs typically demonstrate abnormal posture that affects function and sometimes hygeine.  In a growing child, spasticity and contractures can lead to abnormal development of bones and joints.

What are spasticity and contractures care options?

The care of patients with spasticity requires a team effort, with input from the patient, caregivers, and therapists. Generally, treatment is aimed at improving hygiene, activities of daily living (function), pain, and appearance.
 

The initial treatment of spasticity includes conservative management, therapy and splinting, oral medications (e.g., baclofen and dantrolene), and injectable neurolytic medications (e.g., Botulinum toxin and phenol). These techniques are usually attempted prior to surgical intervention.
 

Surgical goals vary based on current and expected functionality and severity of the deformity.  Children with spasticity present a unique challenge, as surgical intervention may be required to allow more normal bone, joint and muscle development


Reviewed by: Aaron J Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: 3/22/2018 9:54:32 AM

From the Newsdesk

Pediatric Neurosurgeon and Chief of Surgery for Nicklaus Children’s Passes Away
The medical staff, employees and volunteers of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital mourn the passing of our esteemed Dr. Sanjiv Bhatia, a longstanding leader and dedicated champion for children with complex medical conditions and their families.
Medical Mission to Algeria Helps Children in Need of Spinal Surgeries
A group of children in Algeria who underwent complex surgeries as part of a 2016 U.S.-sponsored medical mission have many reasons to celebrate, and can do so with better movement of their limbs.

Video

video
Nearly 5,000 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. Now new technology is helping doctors remove these tumors and save children from additional surgery.