What Is the Treatment for Hypertonicity?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The causes for hypertonicity, or a tightness in the muscles, ranges from overexertion to conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, so there also tends to be a wide range of treatments for the condition depending on its severity. When the signs of hypertonicity begin to appear with unexpected and prolonged pain and stiffness, doctors first try to determine the cause. Muscle tension can be caused by overstretching ligaments in exercise routines like yoga, or when transitioning from a resting state to an active one without doing any stretching beforehand, such as in sitting for a long period of time and then suddenly getting up and moving quickly. In these cases, relieving the strain of a hypertonic muscle involves following appropriate stretching guidelines. In more chronic cases of neuro-muscular degenerative disease, medication and other treatments are prescribed.

When muscles in the body become hyerptonic, or shortened, their corresponding muscle group will become hypotonic or overstretched. The hypertonic muscle may remain in this state for a protracted period of time, leading to periodic muscle spasms, which also puts unnatural levels of stress on the joints and nerves in the region. Since these conditions cannot be detected with x-rays or other types of medical imagery, their treatment usually falls into the field of physical therapy for muscle imbalances and other types of corrective muscle training.

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Signs of hypertonicity are also produced by serious degenerative diseases like amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease), multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries. These types of conditions, as well as cerebral palsy, require oral medication for muscle spasms and injections of phenol motor block medications and other types of drugs directly into the muscle. Casting of limbs can also be done in certain cases, and mechanical supports used in the field of orthotics, which provide external support to the muscles and joints.

Problems with hypertonic muscles can also arise after patients have suffered a stroke. In these instances of hypertonicity, as with most other causes, an assessment is made of the frequency and severity of spasms, as well as a disability assessment, and several treatment options are considered for each individual hypertonicity case. These include stretching exercises and possible splinting of limbs. Hypotonic muscles receive strengthening regimens as well, and oral medication or injections like botulinum toxin may be used as well as an intrathecal baclofen pump. Baclofen is a relaxant drug for skeletal muscle and the intrathecal pump is placed directly under the arachnoid membrane in the region of the spinal cord to administer it.

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