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Stiffness in joints and muscles

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  • Ellie
    Hi Andy,

    As you know, ALS affects both the UMNs and LMNs - (UMN) upper motor neuron degeneration generally causes spasticity (tightness in muscles/high muscle tone) and (LMN) lower motor neuron degeneration generally causes atrophy (muscle wasting) and twitching.

    So, yes, spasticity is a normal part of ALS. It is more severe/bothersome in PLS & UMN Dominant ALS.

    Antispasmodic meds - primarily Baclofen - reduces muscle tone making muscles more pliable and functional BUT getting the dose at the sweet spot can take a few attempts - you need to preserve enough tone to preserve function, whilst lowering the tone enough to facilitate movement.

    Range of motion (ROM) exercising is important to keep joints moving and stop them swelling or seizing up. ROM of any area, particularly hands, fingers, feet and toes, can include massage with oil (always towards the heart)

    Swimming or hydrotherapy is particularly good for spasticity, but any low impact gentle exercise is good, providing you don't overdo it!

    Love Ellie.

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  • nunhead_man
    started a topic Stiffness in joints and muscles

    Stiffness in joints and muscles

    Good morning,

    My acupuncturist was worried this week about stiffness that was developing in my left hand side (Shoulder especially) and I have been worried separately about the stiffness in my fingers that does not allow me to fold them into my palm.

    So I was wondering about this stiffness business and whether it was just because I was not using myself enough or whether it was a feature of the type of motor neurone disease that I have.

    A quick search got me to here;

    "......Predominantly UMN ALS
    Limb onset is typical. Slowness of movement, spasticity (stiffness) and some weakness of muscle strength will be noticed. Briskness of reflexes will become apparent. Walking gait will change as specific muscle groups weaken and often foot-drop is an early indicator of leg involvement. Over years muscle weakness will spread throughout much of the body, but what distinguishes this disease from pure PLS is that muscles will waste during the progression of the disease.
    ........Breathing will continue to operate for many years and maybe decades."

    So firstly, this seems to be me, although my onset is arm, not leg.

    Secondly, I am wondering if I am doing myself any damage by trying to get those stiff joints moving all the time?

    Best to all