Spasticity Treatment

Spasticity — the continual contraction of certain muscles — may interfere with movement and even limit your ability to function independently.

Treatment options for spasticity and related conditions, such as dystonia and tremor, have advanced in recent years.

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s (PM&R) spasticity clinics can help reduce the debilitating effects of spasticity, whether the condition is new or chronic.

Oral Antispasticity Medications

The most common oral medications for treating spasticity are:

  • Baclofen restricts the influx of calcium into the neural receptors and increases the influx of potassium, causing a decrease in the number of messages the nerve cells transmit.
  • Diazepam depresses the central nervous system.
  • Dantrolene sodium reduces the release of calcium that usually occurs after muscle action. This medication is unique because it affects muscle fiber rather than nerve fiber.
  • Tizanidine prevents the release of glutamate and aspartate, two amino acids that can excite nerve cells.

Injections and Surgical Treatment Options for Spasticity

Several non-oral treatments have been very successful in treating spasticity, such as:

  • Botulinum type A and type B (BOTOX®) injections — used in minute amounts at sites carefully determined by an electromyogram, BOTOX injections have proven effective in paralyzing spastic muscles.
  • Phenol injections — a type of alcohol that, when injected in a very small amount, can prevent the transmission of too many nerve impulses without causing a debilitating lack of control or sensation.
  • Surgically implanted pump — in severe cases of spasticity, a pump surgically implanted in a person’s abdomen administers the drug baclofen. This treatment has been found to be very effective in treating spasticity in the lower extremities.

Make an Appointment at our Spasticity Clinics

The Department of PM&R has three spasticity clinic locations in Pittsburgh:

Oakland Uptown South Side
Kaufmann Medical Building
3471 Fifth Ave., Suite 1103
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
UPMC Mercy
1400 Locust St., Suite G-103
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center
2000 Mary St., Fourth floor Pittsburgh, PA 15203

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