What is spasticity?
Spasticity is a condition that affects the muscles. Someone experiencing this problem will find that some of their muscles are continuously contracting involuntarily. This can end up affecting the person’s ability to move around, their speech and the way they walk. Furthermore, it can also interfere with their ability to make voluntary actions. Spasticity is caused by an irregularity of signals from the central nervous system (CNS) to the muscles. It often presents itself in people who have cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. It can also occur after a stroke, traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury.
Symptoms of spasticity vary depending on the muscles that are affected and the severity of the condition. People with this condition can develop increased muscle tone in the affected areas. Additionally, they can experience involuntary movements or spasms, a decrease in motor function and contractors of the muscles and tendons. Over time people can also develop abnormalities in their posture as well as bone and joint deformities. As the muscles are constantly contracted and tense this can interfere with normal physical development. One other very debilitating symptoms of spasticity is pain. Inflammation around the joints and tendons can create severe pain in these areas and the lower back.
Spasticity and Multiple Sclerosis
People with Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, will most likely experience spasticity of their muscles. MS is an immune disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord. The immune system attacks and destroys the protective layer that covers nerve cells. Consequently, this then causes issues with the signalling from the brain to the body. Results of this can be somewhat unpredictable. Some will experience more severe disruption to their motor function and voluntary movement. Muscles that are in constant contraction can become inflamed and painful over time. A further issue is that the body may develop abnormally. This is especially true in children with MS.
Spasticity and Cerebral Palsy
In a person with Cerebral Palsy, the area of the brain that controls muscle tone and movement has been damaged. The brain is then unable to control the flexibility and movement the muscles should have. This results in muscle tension and spasticity. A child born with Cerebral Palsy will not show any physical signs at birth but they will develop over time. The body tries to grow while the muscles are tense. This results in deformities in the extremities. Reducing spasticity from early on allows the body to develop in a normal way.
Spasticity due to injury of the brain or spinal cord
Spasticity can also occur if damage has been caused to certain areas of the brain or the spinal cord. Damage to the reflex areas of the brain can cause changes in motor function, muscle tone and more. The extremities that become affected depends on which part of the brain or spinal cord has been damaged.
Spasticity and cannabinoids
Many of the current treatment options available for spasticity are simply not strong enough. Cannabis is already a popular treatment for the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society conducted an online survey and found that 66% of people with MS currently use cannabis to treat their symptoms, including spasticity. One study lead by the Spanish Society of Neurology found that a combination of CBD and THC was effective in reducing spasticity. 80% of the subjects saw a decrease in spasticity and improvement in mobility with an average of just 5 inhalations per day. They concluded that “THC/CBD appears to be a good alternative to standard treatment as it improves refractory spasticity in MS and has an acceptable toxicity profile” (Lorente Fernández, 2014) So not only are cannabinoids effective, they are safe too.
Furthermore, several countries, including Spain, have already approved an oral spray containing 1:1 CBD to THC for the treatment of spasticity in patients with MS. Furthermore, a review of studies looked at the effectiveness of cannabinoids for neurological disorders. It concluded that a cannabis extract which is administered orally can successfully reduce spasticity in patients with MS. It was also able to reduce pain and spasms.
CBD is a health supplement, used to support homeostasis and maintain a healthy immune system. It is not a cure, or medicine, but can provide relief from many physical and emotional issues. Medical research is limited due to its cost, but what has been discovered so far is very promising. Furthermore, the anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of cannabinoids like CBD is overwhelming. It is always best to do as much research as possible, and seek the advice of your doctor if you are thinking about trying CBD.
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