Treating Your Multiple Sclerosis Muscle Spasms
People with Multiple Sclerosis oftentimes experience painful muscle spasms. These spasms cause the muscles to tighten, often painfully, and refuse to relax, a lot like an intense muscle cramp. MS muscle spasms are due to the misfiring of damaged nerves. These muscle spasms are not only painful themselves, but they have the potential to cause secondary pain, referred to as nociceptive, as well. This means that postural changes or compensating for spastic muscles may lead to pain in other muscles and joints that are currently not being affected by the nerve issues of MS.
Prescription medications are commonly prescribed for MS patients experiencing muscle spasms. Baclofen, tizanidine, and gabapentin are three of the medications most often used for this purpose. Other medications that may be prescribed to reduce spasticity include dantrolene (a true muscle relaxer), Valium (a central nervous system suppressor), and Klonopin (a benzodiazepine). As is the case with most medications, there are side effects associated with these medications like dizziness and fatigue. A wide variety of prescription medications are prescribed for muscle spasms due to MS. Which is right for each individual patient will vary depending on the severity of their condition and other issues they’re experiencing.
We often think of Botox (Onabotulinumtoxin A) as a vanity drug, but it has far more valuable medical applications than the reduction of wrinkles. It is used in some cases of MS to reduce muscle tone due to spasms.
In physical therapy, MS patients will learn stretching exercises that can help them coax their muscles into relaxing. Stretching has the potential to not only help with spasms when they’re happening, but also reduce the instance of muscle spasms by lengthening the muscles.
Occupational therapy may also be prescribed. An occupational therapist will splint, brace, or cast a limb to prevent seizing of the muscle. The idea is that the muscles can be kept taut to reduce loss of range of motion.
Though marijuana still isn’t legal in many places, some MS patients are reportedly finding relief from muscle spasms from cannabis. Oral applications are most highly recommended due to reduced potential side effects.