Stiffness with MS, especially legs and arms...Is this common and what is the reason?
Stiffness, muscle spasms, and tightness (i.e., spasticity) is not uncommon in MS. This is especially true when there is a significant burden of disease in the spinal cord. The spinal cord carries axons that provide an inhibitory (relaxing) signal to the motor neuron that then goes to the muscle. When the inhibitory signal is affected, the motor neuron is left unchecked which can manifest as muscle tightness.
A simple treatment includes stretching. Other medical options can include baclofen, tizanidine, klonopin, etc. These medicines, if used, need to occur under the direction of your physician.
A. Scott Nielsen MD MMSc
Neurologist and MS Specialist at Kaiser Permanente