Barry A. Hendin, MD

Barry A. Hendin, MD,
Banner—University Medicine Neurosciences Clinic,
Center for Neurology and Spine

Most patients with MS experience spasticity daily, with varying degrees of severity and duration, according to results of the cross-sectional Symptoms and Emotions Exploration Needed in MS Spasticity online survey presented at the 2022 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers meeting.

“Spasticity is a common and debilitating symptom experienced by people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and it can have a discernible negative effect on overall well-being and multiple aspects of daily functioning,” stated Barry A. Hendin, MD, and colleagues. “However, the experience of spasticity varies among people with MS and spasticity (PwMSS), and the variable and unpredictable nature of spasticity has not been well characterized.”

Dr. Hendin and colleagues sought to understand how PwMSS experience spasticity and describe its symptoms, to identify triggers, and to describe how PwMSS manage spasticity, as well as its impact on their day-to-day lives. They conducted surveys of 1,177 PwMSS (mean age, 56.8; 78% female) in the US between February and May 2021.

Spasticity Severity & Duration Vary

Participants had diagnosed MS for a mean of 16.8 years and experienced spasticity for a mean of 11.5 years. Nearly all PwMSS (80%) reported experiencing spasticity daily. Spasticity occurred constantly for 34% of respondents, and 40% described multiple periods of spasticity throughout the day. Nearly three-quarters of patients (70%) stated that spasticity varied throughout the day in terms of severity and duration; 63% said such variation occurred day to day.

Patients stated that spasticity was prompted by several factors, including fatigue (52%), physical activity (49%), heat (45%), and stress (43%). PwMSS reported that spasticity was worse in the evening (31%), overnight (18%), morning (17%), and afternoon (4%) or equally severe throughout the day (30%). Nearly all patients (90%) reported that, from day to day, they were unable to foresee when spasticity would happen or how severe it would be, and 65% stated that the day-to-day variability prevented them from doing things they like. Additionally, 50% of PwMSS reported that they change their medication dose and frequency based on their spasticity symptoms on a given day.

“This survey highlights that most PwMSS experience spasticity every day and that it is either constant or intermittent and negatively affects their daily lives,” Dr. Hendin and colleagues wrote. “The results emphasize that the variable nature of spasticity and its lack of predictability necessitate customizable treatments based on the severity and duration of spasticity symptoms.”