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Spasticity / Multiple Sclerosis and Medicinal Cannabis

Muscle spasticity occurs when the nerve impulses that control muscle movement are interrupted or damaged, and is characterised by abnormal muscle tightness due to prolonged muscle contraction.

Associated with damage to the brain, spinal cord or motor nerves, muscle spasticity is commonly seen in individuals with neurological conditions such as; Cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke or traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.

Although muscle spasticity is not specific to any body part, it occurs most commonly in the legs. Symptom severity also varies person to person and can range from being mild to being painful and disabling. 

What are the symptoms of Muscle Spasticity?

Muscle Spasticity can physically manifest in a range of ways, including:

  • Muscle stiffness, causing movements to be less precise and making certain tasks difficult to perform
  • Muscle spasms, causing uncontrollable and often painful muscle contractions
  • Involuntary crossing of the legs
  • Muscle and joint deformities
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Inhibition of longitudinal muscle growth
  • Inhibition of protein synthesis in muscle cells

Factors that may increase your risk of developing Muscle Spasticity:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Brain damage due to lack of oxygen or meningitis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Brain or spinal cord tumour

How can medicinal cannabis help with Muscle Spasticity?

Cannabis interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system as both a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic, which as a result helps keep inflammation and pain at bay. Recent scientific research has shown that medicinal cannabis helps people suffering from muscle spasticity by reducing spasm frequency and easing pain associated with muscle spasms. 

Another review which featured evidence from 34 separate clinical trials found that medicinal cannabis improved patients' perceptions of muscle spasms, as well as improving the objective markers of spasticity.

Some of the cannabis products that have shown to be beneficial treatments to Muscle Spasticity sufferers include:

  • Nabiximols
  • Dronbinol
  • THC:CBD extracts
  • CBD extracts
  • Cannabis Sativa
  • Cannabis Indica

They can be consumed as an oil, vape liquid, sprays and wafers.

If you or a loved one are suffering from muscle spasticity and are considering medicinal cannabis as a potential treatment, please speak to your GP or to one of our SAS accredited doctors here.