Spasticity is a symptom of MS that causes your muscles to feel stiff, heavy and difficult to move. A spasm is a sudden stiffening of a muscle that may cause a limb to involuntarily kick out or jerk towards your body. Both symptoms can range from relatively mild with a feeling of tightness in the muscles, to very severe with large uncontrollable spasms.
Any muscle can be affected but leg spasms and spasticity affecting the arms, legs or the trunk and back are most common.
Clonus is a symptom of spasticity and spasms and can be described as a repetitive, up and down movement, often seen as a constant tapping of the foot. You can reduce the effects of clonus by moving your leg or putting more weight through your leg by standing or perhaps leaning forward.
Physiotherapists and exercise physiologists can help with stretching exercises and positioning. Occupational therapists can advise on posture and on seating and on ways to make day-to-day tasks easier. And your health care team can advise on a number of treatments that can help manage spasticity and spasms in MS.
Our MS in a Minute videos were created to provide fast and factual definitions of commonly used terms in MS.
- Spasticity and spasms (MS Australia)
- Spasticity and spasms (MS Trust – United Kingdom)