Identifying and managing trigger factors for spasticity and spasm in multiple sclerosis can help to manage these symptoms effectively.
Why is it important to know about trigger factors?
Muscle stiffness and/or spasms are common symptoms experienced by people with multiple sclerosis. These symptoms can worsen significantly as a result of other influences such as an infection or other changes to your routine. These are called trigger factors (also known as aggravating factors). If the trigger factor is managed appropriately then your symptoms of stiffness and spasm will ease without needing any medication. If the trigger factor is not managed appropriately then this can lead to worsening of your symptoms, unnecessary medication changes or secondary problems such as muscles becoming tighter and shortened. This can be very distressing and can result in worsening of your mobility.
Trigger factor list
Identifying what is triggering these symptoms is usually straightforward, though sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint what is responsible. The form below has been developed to help identify potential trigger factors and to provide a guide to manage these situations effectively.
Where you identify a change in your normal function or routine, check the Yes option. There is space at the bottom of each section where you can record anything you think might be relevant, either for your own information or to discuss with your healthcare professional.
Once you have completed the list you can email the results to yourself.
If you have difficulty identifying your trigger factor, you may find it helpful to keep a muscle stiffness and spasm diary.
This project has been developed collaboratively between organisations committed to supporting and developing condition-specific specialist nursing in neurological conditions.
Based on the Spasticity triggers booklet written by Jane Lough and Paula Cowan, MS specialist physiotherapists