Not being able to control muscles that have tightened or stiffened up is a major characteristic of spasticity, a disorder that affects muscle control. Depending on the level of severity of spasticity, pain levels can range from mild (experiencing the tightening of the muscles) to severe (painful muscle spasms that can involve the legs). One major cause of spasticity is low back pain.
While there are benefits to spasticity, such as improved muscle tone if you workout and lift weights, and improved mobility for those experiencing weak legs and knees, it can however be detrimental to your physical daily activities such as walking and sitting.
There are two different types of spasticity:
- Flexor spasticity mostly involves the upper leg muscles (hamstrings) and the upper thigh muscles (also known as hip flexors). With flexor spasticity, it can be rather difficult to bend or straighten the hips and knees.
- Extensor spasticity mostly involves the muscles in the inner thighs as well as in the outer thighs (also referred to as the adductors and quadriceps respectively). Unlike flexor spasticity where the person experiences difficulty in bending the hips and knees, with extensor spasticity, the person can experience straightness of the hips and knees and the legs are either kept close together or crossed at the ankles.
For spasticity, pain can range from mild to severe. Mild pain will feature the tightening of the muscles whereas severe pain may cause the extremities to undergo painful spasms, that usually take place in the legs.
Tight clothing, extreme weather conditions (namely temperature and humidity) as well as abrupt physical movement can trigger the onset of spasticity. Generally, the treatment for spasticity can vary on a case-by-case basis. However, should it be left untreated, contractures (the immobilization of the joints) and skin injury (referred to as pressure sores) can occur.