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Call 1-800-533-UPMC (533-8762) to make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Spasticity is the continual contraction of certain muscles that may significantly limit your ability to function independently.

When the part of the brain (or spinal cord) that controls voluntary movement suffers damage, it results in more muscle activity than is typical.

The loss of control over any part of your body can lead to feelings of helplessness and a lack of independence. 

Physiatrists and rehabilitation specialists at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation deliver specialized forms of treatment in order for you to regain function and control of your affected limb or limbs and reduce symptoms of spasticity.

Spasticity symptoms

Symptoms of spasticity range from uncomfortable muscle tightness to sudden muscle spasms and severe joint pain.

Causes of Spasticity

Since spasticity affects the connection between your nervous system and muscle groups, it most often occurs following significant brain or spinal cord trauma.

Common causes of spasticity include:

Treatment for Spasticity

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s three spasticity clinics in Pittsburgh, Pa., offer several leading treatment options for spasticity. The Department also offers ongoing clinical trials and state-of-the-art localization of the medication using either ultrasound or EMG guidance.

A doctor will perform a comprehensive evaluation in order to determine the best course of treatment for you based on the severity and areas of your body spasticity occurs. During an evaluation, the doctor may test movement in your extremities as well as your capabilities to perform at-home tasks independently. Specific goals you would like to accomplish, such as decreasing pain or re-gaining the ability to perform specific functions is also discussed.

Examples of treatment options for spasticity include:

  • Oral medications
  • Botulinum toxin injections
  • Patient-specific rehabilitation programs, including occupational or physical therapy

For more information about the treatment of spasticity visit the spasticity treatment page.​​​​​​

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