Underlying Causes and Natural Therapies for Spasticity

Spasticity_therpy

Muscle spasticity causes your muscles in the body to stiffen and tighten. It is caused by a disruption in muscle movement patterns that cause the muscles to contract all at once. When you have spasticity, your muscles can become so rigid that they become nearly impossible to move. Spasticity can negatively affect the quality of life by making it difficult to walk, talk, move positions, or sit. It typically occurs in the legs but can occur in the arms as well. Spasticity treatment options are available.

The symptoms of spasticity include sustained, quick involuntary muscle contractions, pain, decreased ability to function, abnormal posture, increased muscle tone, permanent contraction of the muscle and tendon due to lasting stiffness, and bone and joint deformities. Severe symptoms can cause frozen joints, pressure sores, and difficulty functioning normally in daily life. It affects approximately 12 million people worldwide.

Interested in using cannabis as an alternative treatment? Get your cannabis card with a licensed physician.

Underlying Causes of Spasticity

Spasticity is typically caused by disruption, interruption, or damage to the nerve pathways that control the muscle and stretch reflexes. When you have spasticity, your muscle movement patterns are disrupted so your muscles contract all at once. 

It’s a condition that’s commonly found in people with spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), brain injury, or cerebral palsy. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), phenylketonuria, hereditary spastic paraplegias, and Krabbe disease may also cause spasticity. In fact, approximately 80% of patients with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy experience some degree of spasticity.

Natural Spasticity Treatment Options

You should look into treatments for spasticity if muscle spasms are affecting your sleep, daily activities, or ability to function. There are many medications available to treat spasticity; however, they do often come with side effects. Natural treatments are available to help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Medical Cannabis

Spasticity, as well as many of the underlying conditions that cause it, are often found as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatment across the United States. It’s become a popular natural treatment option among patients due to the fact that most spasticity sufferers require long-term pain management, and cannabis is often considered a safer alternative to opioids and other pain relievers. Apart from reducing muscle spasms, medical cannabis may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stiff muscles in patients with spasticity. 

Evidence indicates that medical cannabis can affect the nervous system, which is where spasticity originates. Further, research shows that THC can help improve spasticity in MS patients by blocking lesion inflammatory action and improving the communication between the nerves and muscles. Another study indicates that THC could also reduce muscle spasticity in patients suffering from paraplegic spinal cord injuries.

Even CBD, another plant compound in cannabis, has shown to reduce spasticity short term, according to the American Academy of Neurology.

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Herbs

magnesium

Some daily herbal supplements and oils may be able to help prevent spasticity:

  • Magnesium can relax the nervous system and reduce nerve pain
  • Chamomile oil has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Vitamin D can prevent muscle spasms
  • Curcumin may help relax muscles

Always talk to a doctor before implementing herbal medicines in your treatment regimen.

Avoiding Triggers

fatigue

While spasticity is typically caused by an underlying condition or disease, it can be triggered by a variety of factors. Fatigue and stress can trigger spasticity, as can moving positions suddenly, high humidity, extreme hot and cold, infections, and tight clothing. Avoiding these triggers is a natural way to help reduce symptoms.

Stretching

stretching

Stretching every day can actually make your muscles longer. This can help to prevent muscle shortening and decrease spasticity. Focusing your stretching on large muscle groups can improve your mobility and range of motion, while exercises that focus on small muscle groups can improve coordination and strength to improve your ability to perform daily tasks.

Interested in more natural remedies for spasticity? Book a telehealth appointment to talk to a functional medicine doctor online.

Interested in using cannabis as an alternative treatment? Get your cannabis card with a licensed physician.
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