Spasticity: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 6/23/2017

Spasticity is a condition of increased muscle tone in which muscles acquire a state of near constant contraction, or activity. Muscle spasticity causes a loss of range of motion of the affected area and a loss of function. There is also a resistance to movement by an examiner. In the affected muscles, spasticity can also cause symptoms such as

  • pain,
  • stiffness, and
  • tightness.

Hyperactive reflexes, sudden or involuntary movements, abnormal posture, and bone and joint deformities can result from spasticity. Spasticity occurs when there has been damage or injury to part of the spinal cord or brain. Examples of conditions that can lead to spasticity include stroke, brain or spinal cord trauma, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2017

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