A summary of spasticity management--a treatment algorithm

Eur J Neurol. 2002 May;9 Suppl 1:48-52; dicussion 53-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-1331.2002.0090s1048.x.


The muscle overactivity seen in spasticity results in limb stiffness and muscle spasm, to which there is both a neurogenic and a biomechanical component. Spasticity does not always cause harm and can assist in the rehabilitation process enabling a patient to stand when their limb weakness would not otherwise allow it. When it does cause harm, however, treatment is required. This aims to (i) prevent provocative factors (ii) treat muscle overactivity; and (iii) prevent complications. Untreated, limb contracture, pain and other complications occur and early management can be most effective. Treatment is essentially physical, but, when this is inadequate, pharmacological intervention may be required. A strategy has been devised which shows that the first choice pharmacological treatment of focal spasticity is botulinum toxin. Over the past decade, the choice of treatment has become more ambitious with the establishment of new technologies. Good management now depends on an understanding of their role and application in relation to the needs of individual patients. To this end, a treatment algorithm which covers the salient facts in patient assessment and gives the indications for the range of available treatments, is the best approach. The indications and limitations of the available treatments are discussed, along with their place in the overall management of the patients. The evidence base for much of what is done is not strong and this summary examines the activities of proven value and of consensus view.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Botulinum Toxins / therapeutic use
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Muscle Relaxants, Central / therapeutic use
  • Muscle Spasticity / diagnosis
  • Muscle Spasticity / etiology
  • Muscle Spasticity / therapy*
  • Neuromuscular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Physical Therapy Modalities


  • Muscle Relaxants, Central
  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins