Demystifying spasticity in primary care.
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OBJECTIVE: To raise awareness of spasticity in primary care and clarify how to identify, diagnose, and manage it effectively and efficiently in patients with pre-existing neurologic conditions. SOURCES OF INFORMATION: PubMed was searched for articles published from 1970 to May 2018 using the terms spasticity, spasticity in physical disability, spasticity in mobility impairment, and spasticity with family medicine or primary care. Other relevant guidelines and resources were reviewed and used. MAIN MESSAGE: Spasticity is a common secondary complication in conditions such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy, and other neuromuscular physical disabilities and can have a negative effect on health and quality of life. Factors such as inconsistent definition, poorly understood mechanism, and relatively low prevalence make spasticity seem like a daunting condition to manage. Furthermore, its variable presentation and effect on a patient's quality of life, and its range of treatments with varying levels of evidence, can make treatment challenging in primary care and in other clinical settings. Family physicians play an important role in recognizing and inquiring about spasticity and its changes, triggers, and effects on function. Ruling out reversible causes is important. Many management strategies can be instituted by family physicians. CONCLUSION: Managing spasticity might be unfamiliar to many practitioners. It is important for physicians to understand spasticity and the potential treatment options available to improve quality of life. The current review provides concise information on the clinical relevance of spasticity in primary care and how to assess and manage it effectively and efficiently in those with chronic neurologic conditions.
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