People with MS very occasionally develop paroxysmal or tonic spasms, in which an entire arm or leg may draw up or out in a stiff, clenched, or extended position. If such spasms involve both legs, they are termed extensor or flexor spasms. These spasms may be so strong that they literally propel a person out of his or her chair. obviously, this is disconcerting, but it also is potentially dangerous. Carbamazepine (Tegretol®), another drug used for seizures, generally is used to control such spasms, although baclofen and Zanaflex® also may be effective. In the past few years a number of newer antiseizure medications have become available. These are quite effective in managing paroxysmal spasms. They include Trileptal® and Carbitral®. Cortisone may decrease spasticity in general and is quite effective for paroxysmal spasms when it is used on a short-term basis. Its long-term use is not advocated because of numerous associated risks. The management strategy with medication is to use what works at the proper dose. overdosing may cause increased weakness, somnolence, and decreased function.
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