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MS; what exactly is a spasm?

(7 Posts)
Jux Thu 17-Dec-15 22:24:09

I've never really known, my first consultant was a bit of a, well, prat. He never looked at me, spoke entirely to my dh, and if I didn't bring my dh to the annual audience then he kept his nose in my notes while firing questions at me, not listening to my answers, ignoring my questions, and then wrapping the appt up with an inaccurate summary.

So what is a spasm?

The other day, completely overcome with tiredness, I went to bed to rest. I was lying on my side with my legs bent. My knees started complaining so I tried to move them, just straighten them a bit, that always stops the pain at least for a little while.

This time, I couldn't move my knee, the one on top, so I couldn't move my body and change position at all. It hurt more and more, but I couldn't sit up or roll over or anything. I called for help and dh and dd came. I knew it was going to be agonising to move my knee but that once the movement had been made, it would be OK.

DH duly took my foot and straightened my leg for me, and yes, it was OK once the movement stopped! Then I could sit up, and move normally with just some residual pain.

Was that a spasm?

Andro Fri 18-Dec-15 00:33:09

That sounds more like transient spasticity than a spasm.

A spasm is a sudden, involuntary tightening of a muscle - the kind of thing which would cause a limb to jerk for example you leg to kick out or even your back muscles to tighten and force you to arch off the bed.

Klaptout Fri 18-Dec-15 00:38:48

Do you ever get that body jerk just as you are falling to sleep? That feels similar, sudden random jerks that you can't predict or control. If it continues to be a problem there are a few Meds that may help.

Jux Fri 18-Dec-15 16:59:09

I see. I have been known to throw a spoon across the room, or the loo roll!

I hadn't even heard of transient spasticity.

My eyes get stuck occasionally and I can't move them, sometimes I can't focus them either. Is that pretty much the same thing?

What I'm most interested in though, is what actually happens to the muscle/nerve when you get that transient spasticity. What causes the pain, what stops the muscle from moving, what that rush of pain is when you do move and why it goes so quickly once you have moved. I suppose I'm thinking about chemical changes? I don't know enough to ask the questions!

Andro Fri 18-Dec-15 18:22:55

Spasticity is caused by an imbalance in the nerve signals; that imbalance can cause the pain or cause the tightening of the muscles to a degree which causes pain, stops you moving your leg (for example) and can have some serious consequences. I've used transient because I don't know whether this is something you have (or will) experience again, but it's fairly common in MS.

Spasms can be a symptom of spasticity, but not all spasms are a consequence of spasticity. One of my friend's dad had MS, he spasmed from time to time (if he had a temperature or was having an attack) but his muscles were not actually spastic so he didn't need treatment to manage it. If things like this keep happening, let your specialist know - or better still talk to a specialist MS nurse (they seem more on the ball than most doctors)

Andro Fri 18-Dec-15 18:27:23

Take a look here for a good explanation of spasticity and spasms

www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/spasticity-and-spasms

And here

www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Spasticity

Jux Fri 18-Dec-15 19:33:13

Thank you, Andro. That's very useful.

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