Health Conditions / Neurological Health / Spasticity

Selma Blair Worried Her Body Would Freeze During Her First DWTS Performance

Selma Blair Worried Her Body Would Freeze During Her First DWTS Performance

Selma Blair shared what her first performance on Dancing with the Stars really felt like in a new interview with Access Hollywood. “It brought tears to me afterwards,” the 50-year-old actor said as she stood next to her 11-year-old son, Arthur, who mentioned that he’s “really proud” of his mom.Blair, who has been open about living with multiple sclerosis (MS) since her diagnosis in 2018, thanked her dance partner, Sasha Farber, for being so supportive during rehearsals and on-stage. “I’ve never even danced with anyone before…. This was my first dance, and to have Sasha hold me in frame and teach me to have a little better control and calm my breathing down—it meant everything,” she said. “It was beautiful.”Naturally, she got a bit nervous in the lead-up to the show’s September 19 premiere and worried that her body would involuntarily pause during the dance. “I felt the adrenaline, and when I feel the adrenaline some of my body freezes,” she said. “In the dress rehearsal I thought, Oh God, I hope I can find it.” And she did: Her brilliant performance was met by praise (and plenty of tears) from the judges. This included Carrie Ann Inaba, who was visibly emotional as she spoke about her own experience of being a part of the “invisible illness community.”Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological condition that affects the central nervous system. As the disease progresses, it can block messages the brain tries to send to the rest of the body. This can lead to wide-ranging, potentially disabling symptoms, including chronic pain, vision problems, muscle weakness, trouble with coordination and balance, numbness and tingling, memory issues, and partial paralysis, among many others. As SELF previously reported, Blair said she often deals with spasticity and dystonia—two potential side effects of multiple sclerosis that affect the muscles—when trying new things, but that she was determined to work through them.In an interview from Monday night’s episode, Blair talked about what it means to be a contestant on DWTS as a person who lives with MS. “I hoped that by doing this show, I could show people with disabilities the joy that can be found in ways you never expected,” she said.Ultimately, her presence on the show offers much-needed representation and inspiration: “The gratitude I feel, if I could ever help someone try something new, especially someone that’s chronically ill and has differences. [That’s what] tonight and the past few weeks have been all about.”Related:

Selma Blair Says Joining ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Is a ‘Powerful’ Moment for Her

Selma Blair Says Joining ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Is a ‘Powerful’ Moment for Her

Since her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis in 2018, Selma Blair has adapted to many challenges with fierce determination and infectious enthusiasm, so it’s no surprise she’s “beyond thrilled” to join the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars” (DWTS).In a recent group interview with Good Morning America (GMA), the 50-year-old actor and author said she’s “grabbing at every joy we have in life,” and is excited about “getting out and moving,” even if her muscles get a bit worked up in the process. “The truth is when I am trying new things I get a lot of spasticity, dystonia,” she said, “and I am okay.”MS is a complex neurological condition that impacts the central nervous system. Experts believe the disease is autoimmune in nature because the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy parts of the body and damages the protective insulation, known as myelin, that forms around nerves. Essentially, this makes it really tough for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, which can trigger a slew of wide-ranging and potentially disabling symptoms—from muscle weakness and memory problems to chronic pain and even partial paralysis. Spasticity and dystonia, for example, are both disorders that can impact muscle movements.But Blair and her DWTS partner, pro dancer Sasha Farber, see all of this as an opportunity to get a bit imaginative with their routines. “Walking is much harder for me than when I can get into the groove of settling into dance and fluidity,” Blair told Entertainment Tonight (ET). “This is an amazing lesson to use my emotions and body together to unite a little more with the support of Sasha and music.”And Farber finds his partner equally exciting to work with: He told ET that joining forces with Blair “isn’t about a dance competition,” because he genuinely just wants to see her “improve and to grow.” That’s why the duo took things really slow when their practice rounds first started; Farber checked in with Blair before each rehearsal to make sure she wasn’t in pain, and they liked to perform breathing exercises together. “I wasn’t aware of what I could do,” she said, “if I could safely push myself.”Blair has always been candid about the reality of living with MS, including how important mobility aids and adaptive devices are when it comes to figuring out everyday life and being a mom to her 11-year-old son, Arthur.So, a little anxiety is also to be expected. Blair told GMA that she gets nervous “if I lose my partner’s touch,” while dancing, since she’s used to having her dog, Scout, or her cane for support at home—but that’s not going to stop her from enjoying herself on stage, she said: “This is so powerful to me.”Related:

This Disorder Explains Why Some People Have Muscle Spasms After a Stroke

This Disorder Explains Why Some People Have Muscle Spasms After a Stroke

As with most conditions involving the human brain, spasticity is a complex disorder. The condition causes many muscles to contract at once, leading to tightness and uncontrollable contractions, according to the Cleveland Clinic.Spasticity is a common complication following a stroke, but the exact prevalence is hard to pinpoint. According to a 2018 review published in the International Journal of Gerontology1, roughly 30% to 80% of people experience spasticity after a stroke, which is a pretty wide range. “The actual numbers are controversial—it really depends on how the study is done,” Gerard E. Francisco, MD, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston McGovern Medical School, tells SELF.Bradford B. Worrall, MD, a professor of neurology and public health at the University of Virginia, tells SELF that in his experience, many people deal with spasticity symptoms to varying degrees after a stroke. Researchers are still learning about the complex relationship between spasticity and stroke. Ahead, find out what we currently know about why spasticity happens after a stroke, the most common symptoms, and how the condition is treated.What happens to the brain during a stroke?A stroke occurs when the brain doesn’t receive enough blood or oxygen, and this can happen for two reasons. First, blood vessels in the brain can become blocked by fat deposits or a blood clot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Or a blood vessel can burst or leak, putting pressure on the brain. In both cases, brain cells become damaged or die almost immediately, so getting emergency care is vital in order to preserve brain tissue.What causes spasticity after a stroke?To better understand why a stroke doesn’t always cause spasticity, it helps to know how the nervous system works. In order to do things like high-five a friend or reach down to tie your shoes, your brain needs to communicate with the rest of your body, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Your brain communicates using nerve cells, called neurons, that travel along nerve pathways located in the brain and spinal cord.Spasticity happens when there is a disruption of communication between the brain, your muscles, and the nerves on top of the muscles that are responsible for controlling movements.  As a result, your muscles may contract when they should be relaxed. Generally, spasticity happens when the cerebral cortex (a region of the brain that helps control movement) or the brainstem (which helps connect the brain to the spinal cord) are damaged after a stroke. Spasticity can occur after other causes of brain damage, too, including certain neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.Experts can anticipate who may develop spasticity after a stroke using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which creates three-dimensional images of the brain. If MRI shows that lesions are located in areas of the brain that are associated with the disorder, neurologists can then monitor for symptoms of spasticity2, Dr. Francisco says. This way, people can get diagnosed and treated quickly.

How 5 People Found Strength During Their Stroke Recovery

How 5 People Found Strength During Their Stroke Recovery

One of those great ideas was walking around with a weighted vest towards the end of her rehab, which she says drastically improved her gait and balance. Kicking soccer balls and shooting basketballs was also a huge help with her coordination, she says.“Through all this, I’ve realized that surviving a stroke is an opportunity to find yourself in courage, strength, and determination to overcome the odds,” she says. Now that she’s on the other side, she wants to share the strength she found with others through the Young Empowered Stroke Survivors Foundation.2. I found the strength to set some boundaries in my personal life.At the young age of 41, Kati W. had not one but two strokes. A self-professed workaholic and mother of three, Kati worked an entire week with intermittent stroke symptoms before finally seeking care at the emergency room. “I’m telling you, nothing phased me—I just kept working and never complained,” Kati explains. “I did go numb on my left side for a week, but I continued to work through it.”Although Kati’s face never drooped (a common stroke symptom), there were plenty of other signs she did ignore. “My typing got worse on my left hand, and I kept dropping things,” she describes. “I forgot to wear shoes to work twice that week, and I brushed it off as no big deal. I never thought of or considered a stroke.”By the time Kati was diagnosed, the ischemic stroke (her first one) had converted to a hemorrhagic one, thus she had significant bleeding in her brain. As a result of both strokes, she lost function on her left side. In just a few weeks, Kati says her life completely changed. At age 41, she couldn’t walk, drive, or work. Losing that kind of independence at such a young age was jarring, she says. “I’m wheeling into rehab with no function and mobility on my entire left side, looking around and seeing nobody my age.”With time to reflect, Kati realized she was placing great demands on her body and mind, which led to uncontrolled high blood pressure—a key component of what her doctors say caused her stroke. “What I learned is that I worked too much and overloaded my stress levels and kept saying ‘it doesn’t bother me,’ but physically, it really affected my health,” she says.Post-stroke, Kati is grateful for her family and friends and intends to set boundaries for the benefit of her physical and mental health in the future. Right now, she’s not able to work, but she’s practicing those boundary-setting skills with her friends and family. “I’ve learned to be kind and patient with myself, ask for help when I need it and set some boundaries. For example, I found that the fewer visitors I had, the better, so I would leave nice notes on my door that said I appreciated people’s time but was not ready to visit.”3. I committed myself to rehabilitation, regular exercise, and therapy.Christie S., 43, experienced an aneurysm rupture in 2014. An aneurysm is a bulge in the blood vessels in the brain and when it ruptures, it causes a hemorrhagic stroke. “My memory was completely wiped out,” she says. “I had to learn how to walk and talk again, and basically restart my life.”

Here’s How I Learned to Accept My Cerebral Palsy

Here’s How I Learned to Accept My Cerebral Palsy

My mom believed in tough love. Eventually, I learned that being tough meant fighting for what I wanted. In the seventh grade, I watched the Olympics on TV. I saw Greg Louganis and I thought, “I want to be a diver.” My parents took me for a sports physical so that I could try out for the middle school diving team. The doctor took my mom out of the room and said, “You realize that Hilary has cerebral palsy, and cerebral palsy and diving don’t really go together.” My mom asked, “Will she kill herself?” He said no. She said, “Sign the paper.”I tried out for the diving team in seventh grade but got cut because I couldn’t do a flip. I spent the whole next summer in the local pool, teaching myself how to do a flip. And when the eighth-grade tryouts came around, I made it. I couldn’t do the high-level dives other kids could do, but at least I tried. And I loved it. I loved flying through the air and feeling the freedom of my body not inhibiting me.In every other part of my life, my body did hold me back. It was so hard to accept myself because I knew I was different and I couldn’t hide those differences. Everything came to a head my sophomore year of high school. I had no friends and I was absolutely miserable. I tried to kill myself. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital, where I stayed for three weeks.One night in bed I just started crying. I’m very spiritual, and I believe God put in my mind the idea that anything He makes is not junk. That formed the basis for the beginning of my self-esteem—the belief that God does not make junk.I met a counselor at the hospital who taught me that I was unique. He just knew that I was an old soul. Until that point, no one had fostered that feeling in me. By the time I left there, I finally had the confidence to make friends. My junior and senior years of high school were pretty great.Even as an adult, though, I sometimes have to deal with misunderstandings about who I am and what I can accomplish. One of the most frustrating things about having cerebral palsy is when people hear my voice and assume I’m not intelligent, which is so untrue. I have a master’s degree! But often when I walk or say anything, people think I’m drunk. These kinds of assumptions actually did contribute to me becoming an alcoholic. I was like, “I’ll show you drunk.”While I was an undergrad, for instance, my roommates and I would go out and they would end up carrying me home. Then we’d do it all again the next night. I tried to get sober and stay sober on my own. But it was only after I passed out while driving and hit a tree that I fully applied myself to recovery and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve been sober for almost 20 years.

What to Know About Spastic Cerebral Palsy

What to Know About Spastic Cerebral Palsy

In addition to the primary symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy, some people may also have additional medical complications that can cause related side effects, such as possible seizures due to brain damage, as well as potential scoliosis or hip dislocation caused by tight muscles.Back to topWhen is spastic cerebral palsy diagnosed?As any parent can attest, having a baby comes with lots of doctor appointments—before and after your child is born. During those well-baby visits, your doctor should discuss developmental milestones with you. (The American Academy of Pediatrics1 recommends developmental screenings at nine, 18, and 30 months, however, your doctor may ask questions informally at every appointment.) If your baby doesn’t meet the milestones for their age, such as rolling over or crawling, then your doctor might test for medical conditions like spastic cerebral palsy.Screenings make it easier to catch spastic cerebral palsy early—most people with the condition are diagnosed by the time they are two years old. That said, some children don’t show signs of the condition until they’re older, according to Dr. Ong.According to NINDS, diagnosis generally includes imaging tests such as:Cranial ultrasound, an imaging test used on young babies because it is the least intrusive option. However, the photos generally aren’t as precise as other tests.Computed tomography (CT) scan, a test that shows images of the brain to help reveal possible damage.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a test that offers a more detailed image of the brain compared to a CT scan. MRI can help identify the location and type of brain damage.Additionally, your doctor will most likely watch your child move naturally and observe for fidgety or jerky movements during the exam2.Back to topHow is spasticity treated in cerebral palsy?There’s no cure for any form of cerebral palsy, but children who start treatment as soon as they’re diagnosed generally have an easier time living with their condition. For example, kids who were diagnosed and treated before they were two years old improved their motor and cognitive skills, so they could do things like eat and drink more easily, according to a 2021 systematic review published in JAMA Pediatrics3.Cerebral palsy treatment is highly personalized, so it’s based on an individual’s symptoms. If you have spastic cerebral palsy, then your treatment may include specific medications or therapies to help manage spasticity symptoms too. These might include the following:Physical and occupational therapyBoth therapies are typically an important part of cerebral palsy treatment, according to NINDS. Physical therapy includes exercises that help improve your muscle strength, balance, and coordination, whereas occupational therapy includes mobility exercises that, when done consistently over time, will help you do everyday activities like getting dressed.

3 People With Multiple Sclerosis Share How They Manage Their Spasticity

3 People With Multiple Sclerosis Share How They Manage Their Spasticity

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can, naturally, have an enormous impact on your life. You may need to make some lifestyle changes and try a few treatments to help manage the various symptoms, including spasticity. Spasticity is a common M.S. symptom, especially as the disease progresses.Spasticity can happen when the nerve pathways in the brain and spinal cord that govern muscle function become compromised in some way, which is typical of M.S. When this occurs, muscles contract involuntarily, often leading to abnormal tightness, spasms, and pain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Because spasticity produces painful, uncontrollable spasms of extremities (especially the legs), performing daily tasks like walking or even standing can seem near impossible at times, especially during M.S. flares when symptoms get worse.While there is no cure for spasticity or M.S., a treatment plan tailored to your needs can decrease symptoms, improve mobility, and contribute to a better quality of life. Below, SELF spoke to three people with M.S. about how spasticity affects their lives and how they manage the symptoms.1. “I’ve had to become aware of triggers, individuals, and environments that create stressful situations.”Autumn Grant, 29, was diagnosed with M.S. in March 2020, two days after her business was hit by the Nashville tornado, and nearly four years after dealing with several bouts of illnesses. For Grant, M.S. spasticity makes her muscles become tight, experience contractions, and feel fatigued. In addition, she deals with painful joint stiffness and lower back pain. “The pain, fatigue, and spasticity are mentally draining and can become very frustrating,” Grant tells SELF. “All you want to do is get better, but you feel like you’re in a battle with your own body.”There are times when Grant feels so helpless she gets mad at her own body. During those instances, she has to remind herself that she didn’t choose this, but she can choose her outlook on life, along with how she approaches environmental and emotional triggers that make her M.S. symptoms such as spasticity worse. “I’ve had to become aware of emotional triggers, individuals, and environments that create stressful situations,” she explains. One example: “My body does not like the cold weather, and I tend to have more relapses, including worsening spasticity, in the winter months,” Grant says. However, in the summer months, she’s more active and believes that routine exercise, stretching, and movement help preserve her quality of life.To help with spasticity, Grant relies on medication, yoga poses, stretching, and taking Epsom salt baths to relax her muscles as well. She also has found that supplements like magnesium provide some relief for her symptoms. (Magnesium deficiency can bring about muscle cramps or spasms, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and there has been some research into how magnesium supplementation may affect spasticity in people with conditions like M.S., but much more research is necessary.1) Grant also swears by an acupressure mat that provides massage and much needed-relief daily.

How 4 People With Multiple Sclerosis Stay Active Day-to-Day

How 4 People With Multiple Sclerosis Stay Active Day-to-Day

Of course, the reality of this will look different from person to person. If you’re dealing with MS symptoms that are so severe they inhibit your ability to be physically active, that’s also perfectly valid. Working with your treatment team may help you figure out how to best manage symptoms so you can add more movement back into your life.3. Set long-term, incremental movement goals.Bree Alvarez, 38, a high school teacher and Zumba instructor in California, was diagnosed with MS six years ago. Now she’s training for her fifth marathon.“Setting a goal was definitely first on my list,” she says. “Once I set my mind to it, I knew it was going to be done.” At her first neurology appointment, she spoke with her doctor about changes to her diet and exercise routine that could help her get in better physical shape, and she committed to her first half-marathon not long afterward. By working toward a big goal, she was able to make small changes and establish momentum in her workout routines.Binns has had a similar strategy in the past. She remembers a time in her disease progression when her symptoms confined her to a scooter. Even when she temporarily lost some of her mobility, she stayed committed to strengthening her legs. To help make this more achievable, she made various lifestyle changes, like reducing foods that may be linked to inflammation, such as dairy, and switching to medications that further controlled her symptoms. She says she was then able to build stamina week after week with the goal of leaving the scooter behind—and it worked. “It’s nothing for me now to walk a mile in the evening with my husband,” Binns says.4. Choose exercise that you enjoy.If you don’t like the exercise that you’re doing, you won’t be motivated to continue it. This may be especially true when you are using exercise to try to slow the progress of a chronic condition like MS. Binns puts it this way: “When somebody tells you what to do and it doesn’t feel right, you tend not to be as compliant with doing it. But if you determine what your body really needs and what feels right to it, you’re going to stick with that because it feels good.”That’s why Courtney Platt, 33, has kept dancing, her professional and personal first love. Platt (who, yes, is related to Dear Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt) says that the first question she asked her neurologist when she was diagnosed with MS 10 years ago was whether she would be able to keep dancing. Fortunately, that doctor understood that dancing wasn’t just a physical outlet for Courtney, but a mental and spiritual one, too. “Her answer was, ‘You should never stop dancing—it keeps your body, mind, and soul strong,’” Platt says.“Whether it is in my living room, on a stage, or in a gym, staying active is one of my top priorities—not just for my physical health, but also for my mental health,” Platt says. A former contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, Platt now teaches vertical climbing fitness classes from her home in addition to continuing to tour, act, and perform.

10 Steps That Can Help Make Living With Spasticity a Bit Easier

10 Steps That Can Help Make Living With Spasticity a Bit Easier

A physical therapist can help people with spasticity by developing stretching and strengthening programs designed to target specific muscle groups, Chris Venus, P.T., N.C.S., a board-certified neurologic clinical specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), tells SELF.“Stretching temporarily lessens the amount of spasticity on a particular joint of a limb,” he says. In addition, strengthening the muscles that work in opposition to the muscles spasming may help “overpower” the effects of spasticity.Dr. Diaz adds that passive or manual stretching— that means applying external force onto a muscle you want to stretch—may be recommended when there is significant muscle weakness.Electrical therapy can also be used to help reduce muscle stiffness and pain. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are commonly used in physical therapy to treat spasticity, says Dr. Diaz. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, just one session of FES or TENS may help reduce spasticity symptoms for about four hours.2Finally, techniques like ice massage, ice baths, and coolant sprays may help ease spastic muscles, if only in the short term.3 Another technique used in physical therapy for spasticity is hydrotherapy. According to Dr. Diaz, the anti-gravity effect of water provides support and helps facilitate muscle movement.3. Occupational therapy can help you perform everyday tasks.OK, so we know that physical therapy can help reduce muscular stiffness, discomfort, and improve range of motion. Occupational therapy compliments all of those benefits, says Dr. Diaz, with a focus on fine motor skills needed to do day-to-day functions like eating, dressing, bathing, going to the bathroom, household chores, playing Wordle (just us?), and going to work.“An occupational therapist will assess how spasticity affects a person’s functional abilities and develop an individualized plan to improve function,” explains Dr. Diaz. This may include one or more of the following:Practicing movements involved in daily tasksRelearning performance tasks to avoid spastic movementsAdapting home or work environment to make tasks easierRecommending assistive devicesEngaging in speech therapy4. Splinting, casting, and bracing for support are also options.Splints, casts, and braces are devices that are designed to help control body motions, alter the shape of body tissues, and improve range of motion and flexibility.Orthotics and splints are rigid or semi-rigid devices that provide support or restrict movement.Splints can help support weak muscles and maintain the limb in a normal position to prevent contracture, which is the tightening of muscles, tendons, joints, or other tissues.Braces and casts can help maintain and sometimes improve flexibility and range of motion in cases of increased spasticity. However, Venus says, these must be combined with an appropriate stretching program to be effective. According to Dr. Diaz, serial casts—basically a cast that forces the muscle into a stretched position—can be used to help lengthen and straighten contracted muscles, which may improve the range of movement in a joint that is already contracted.All of these devices should be measured and fitted by your therapist for best performance, says Venus, because an ill-fitting brace can actually have the opposite effect and increase spasticity.5. Staying active is a biggie when it comes to keeping spasticity in check.Getting regular exercise is essential for physical and mental wellness, and engaging in the right activities that complement your overall spasticity treatment plan and diagnosis is key. That’s why it’s important to work closely with your doctor to design an exercise routine outside of your regular physical and occupational therapy program. Just know that you don’t have to train for a marathon to reap the benefits of regular exercise, it could be as simple as practicing some gentle yoga moves.

12 Common Spasticity Triggers, From UTIs to Stress

12 Common Spasticity Triggers, From UTIs to Stress

If you use medical equipment like a wheelchair, orthotics, or braces due to multiple sclerosis, stroke, or an injury, it’s a good idea to check to make they still fit well and don’t look too worn down. If they do, they may be more likely to cause skin irritation and breakdown that triggers your spasticity.FatigueWhether it’s muscle fatigue or generally feeling wiped out, that so-tired-you-can’t-lift-your-head feeling can play a factor in spasticity. Fatigue is also closely connected with stress and illness, two other factors that can increase your spasticity risks, according to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.4 While we don’t know exactly why fatigue can trigger spasticity for some people, one 2015 study published in Physiotherapy Canada theorized that people may perceive the increased muscle stiffness from fatigue as a worsening of spasticity symptoms.4Stress and anxietySpeaking of stress, emotional stress, anxiety, depression, or overall changes in your mental health have a close connection to your physical health. If you have a sudden spike in your stress levels (say, your in-laws decide to stop by unannounced), this could be a trigger for your spasticity, possibly due to the increased muscle tension associated with high-stress situations.Fractured bonesIf you have a spinal cord injury or other condition that affects your ability to sense your extremities, a fracture (broken bone) can happen without you knowing it. An event as simple as hitting your foot against a door could lead to an undetected injury, Dr. Cabahug explains, which can then trigger spasticity. Again, any kind of irritation or change to the body can trigger spasms.Relapse or worsening of an underlying conditionSometimes increased spasticity can be a side effect from a condition progressing. For example, if you have MS and go through a period where your symptoms come back or become more intense, spasticity can flare, too. Spasticity can also become more pronounced after a recurrence, such as having another stroke.Pregnancy-related changesAs if pregnancy doesn’t come with enough curveballs, hormonal swings—not to mention the fatigue associated with pregnancy and overall body changes—can make spasticity worse.1 You can also experience spasticity in the postpartum period. As your hormones adjust to new levels, this can trigger muscle spasms, even if you didn’t have problems during your pregnancy.Menstrual cycle changesThis one seems to hit people with MS who were assigned female at birth especially hard. An estimated 69% of people assigned female at birth with relapsing-remitting MS noted their spasticity worsened immediately before and sometimes during their menstrual cycle, according to an article in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.5 Like pregnancy, the reason this happens likely has something to do with the change in hormone levels setting off the spasms.High humidity and extreme temperaturesWhile scorching hot days are no fun for anyone, people with certain nervous system disorders and spinal cord injuries may experience temperature dysregulation. This means your body may not recognize when it’s hot or cold. When it’s drafty, your nerves may not tell you to put on your Snuggie (is that still a thing?), and when it’s hot, you may not realize a sweater is a bit overkill. In the meantime, the temperature changes can wreak havoc on your body—triggering muscle spasms—without you even noticing.6 Why temperature changes trigger spasticity for some people isn’t entirely understood by experts, but it may have something to do with those hyperactive nerves.What causes sudden spasticity?Spasticity can come on so fast that you’re left reeling in pain, wondering exactly what happened. It’s usually due to one of three causes: Something has triggered your muscle spasms, your condition is progressing, or you have a condition that has gone undiagnosed or untreated.

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