Post Stroke Pain Spasticity Management Questions and Answers
Talk to our team of healthcare professionals at Ramos Center to learn how we can help you manage spasticity after a stroke. Call us today or visit us online to book an appointment. We have 5 locations in Bradenton FL, Englewood FL, Sarasota FL, and Venice FL to serve you.
What is Post Stroke Spasticity and How Common Is It?
Spasticity is commonly defined as “a motor disorder characterized by a velocity-dependent increase in tonic stretch reflexes along with exaggerated tendon jerks, resulting from hyperexcitability of the stretch reflex, as a component of the upper motor neuron syndrome.” It is a common complication of stroke. It contributes to the impairments as well as disabilities that negatively impact functional recovery. Consequently, PSS, along with weakness and lack of coordination, results in gait abnormalities and problems with arm use. In addition to practical limitations, spasticity, when not treated appropriately, may lead to reduced quality of life, increased pain, and joint contractures.
Three community-based studies that followed up stroke survivors for 3-12 months reported incidences of PSS between 17% and 43%. Certain factors are recognized as predictors of PSS, such as:
- stroke lesions in the brain stem
- hemorrhagic stroke in younger age
- severe paresis and hemihypesthesia at stroke onset
How do you manage spasticity after a stroke?
While spasticity can be painful, there are several ways to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are 7 tips for living with spasticity:
- Exercise or stretch the affected limbs
One of the simplest things you can do for spasticity after a stroke is to keep the affected limbs moving. Regularly exercising these areas can ease tightness, maintain your entire range of motion, and prevent muscles from shortening. A physical therapist or occupational therapist can show you exercises that will help your post-stroke spasticity.
- Adjust your posture
Try to avoid staying in one position too long if you are dealing with spasticity after a stroke. That can cause muscles and joints to become stiff and sore. Caregivers should aim to assist people with spasticity in switching positions every 1–2 hours to keep the body limber.
- Support affected limbs
Providing extra support for affected limbs can keep you more comfortable as well and reduce the effects of spasticity. For example, try not to let your arm or leg fall off the side of the bed or wheelchair. Be especially mindful when you are lying down. Placing your affected arm or leg under your body when you are resting can worsen spasticity. Lying on your back can help in keeping your limbs in a more comfortable position. Special braces can help support limbs and thereby prevent spasticity from getting worse.
- Adapt your home
Making adjustments in your home can make it easier for people with spasticity to move around and accomplish tasks. You can adapt your home by installing ramps to doorways, adding grab bars to the bathroom, installing raised toilet seats, placing a bench in your tub or shower, or using plastic adhesive strips on the bottom of your tub.
- Ask for support
People with spasticity and their caregivers can find it helpful to seek support from family, friends, and other loved ones. They can encourage active Movement and help with tasks around the home. If your loved one is stretching, you can stretch with them for encouragement.
- Work with an occupational therapist
Occupational therapists help people with disabilities and other health conditions learn new ways of performing everyday tasks more efficiently. This may include learning to get dressed with the other hand or modifying eating habits. While learning something new is usually a journey, staying positive can help make the whole process easier.
- Use mobility aids
If spasticity has made it challenging to move around after a stroke, using mobility aids could help you move more quickly. Common mobility aids include braces, wheelchairs, canes, and walkers. You can talk to an occupational therapist to see if a mobility aid can be helpful for you.
How does stroke cause spasticity?
A stroke can damage a part of the brain which controls the signals to the muscles. If that happens, you can experience spasticity or an abnormal increase in muscle tone. It can cause your muscles to become stiff, tight, and painful, causing you to be unable to maneuver fluidly. That, in turn, may affect the way you speak, move, and walk. Your muscles may remain contracted in certain positions, such as a clenched fist, bent wrist, or tucking your thumb into your palm. Other ways spasticity may affect the body after a stroke include tight knees, tension within the fingers, bending your foot at an angle, weakness in a foot, bending your arm and holding it tight against the chest, and curling in the toes.
For more information, call us now. We serve patients from Bradenton FL, Sarasota FL, Palmetto FL, Laurel FL, Venice FL, Englewood FL, Memphis FL, Cortez FL and Port Charlotte, FL.
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