hello everyone welcome back to our
channel for those of you are new here I’m Craig and this is Claire and I am a T4
complete Paraplegic which means I have no movement or sensation from the
chest down so if you have no knowledge of spinal cord injuries you might be
wondering how did Craig’s legs just move in that last clip if he’s paralyzed
from the chest down well that is due to muscle spasms and
we’re gonna tell you all about what they are and how you can reduce them after
the Intro Okay so what is a muscle spasm? so muscle spasms are a side effect of a
spinal cord injury and they are involuntary muscle contractions or
reflexes which are caused from sitting too long and causing your muscles to get
really tight or as a reflex reaction from an external stimuli which would
cause pain or harm such as something very hot or a cut or something like that mm-hmm so
the reason that people with spinal cord injuries get muscle spasms is because
the responses from your muscles to your brain can’t get through because of the
break in your spinal cord the messages can’t get up and through to your brain
so because they can’t get to your brain and get a typical response they resort
to going to your sort of secondary brain at the base of your
spinal cord which is a lot more primitive than your normal brain
now this at brain at the bottom of your spinal cord it sends back vastly
exaggerated responses to these reflexes so that’s why such a small stimulus
can cause such a big response so while muscle spasms are very annoying
they do have quite a lot of benefits to them so one of the benefits to muscle
spasms is that they help to maintain your muscle tone and they also stop your
muscles from atrophying which is one of the big side effects of a spinal cord injury. So the reasons that you don’t want your muscles to atrophy is because
if they are atrophied you then have no protection for your bones or joints and
so you can easily break them doing transfers yep and another reason is that
if there ever is to become some sort of cure for spinal cord injury if you don’t
have those muscles you’re going to have to go all the way back to square one to
rebuild those muscles before you can start benefiting from that cure
whereas if you’ve actually got some muscle mass there you can straightaway
benefit from that cure in the future yeah I mean if your muscles have
completely atrophied sometimes you’re not eligible to even try to use them again
yeah you might never be able to get your muscles back if they’ve gone completely
so another benefit of muscle spasms is it helps with blood flow and circulation
so if your muscles are moving it pumps the blood around your body more and you
don’t end up with blood pooling in your extremities and then also, muscle
spasms act as a bit of early warning indicator for certain conditions so for
example if my bladder was over full or my bowels were over full or if I had
managed to injure myself below my injury level couldn’t feel it that might result
in an increase in muscle spasms so it might tell me that something’s wrong so
I know to look out for something. Also if you’ve been sitting for a long time you
might be at risk of getting a pressure sore. That’s another instance where you might get spasms mm-hm
and then one other thing that some people find useful but not everyone is
some people find that they can help them with movement and make their transfers
easier but this is not the case for everyone and a lot of people actually
find that the spasms are worse for their transfers and actually make it a lot
harder to transfer. For me personally I don’t find spasms really help me with
transfers if anything they’re more of a hindrance but some people particularly
those who have learned how to trigger certain spasms on demand they can find
it quite beneficial for example if you’ve got limited core and you’re
trying to sit up in the bed in the morning if you can trigger a spasm in
your abs then that can help you sit up or if you’re trying to say put some
clothes on your legs but your legs keep bending if you can trigger your legs to
spasm and straighten out it makes it a lot easier to pull the clothes up so basically if
if you know how to control your spasms you can actually get your muscles to
work for you and then another drawback to having muscle spasms is that
especially if you with your legs if your legs just kick out they can actually
kick into hard objects and you can end up injuring your your toes from hitting
into things. So Craig’s had this quite a few times where we’ve looked at his feet and
we’re like wondering why his toes are bleeding. It must be because his muscles have spasmed
and he’s kicked something yeah sometimes I see it happen it’s just like *cringe*
although you can’t feel it it sort of makes you cringe a bit because there’s
not a lot you can do to control it. So I’ve got quite alot of sort of broken nails and
cuts on my feet from that which is frustrating.
So in general people finds muscle spasms really annoying and uncomfortable so how
can you go about reducing or managing them. So one of the most common methods
for treating spasms straight after you’ve had your spinal cord injury is to
use an oral drug called baclofen. So most people ask prescribed
this when they first get their spinal cord injury and they’re still in
hospital and baclofen is a muscle relaxant so it stops spasms by relaxing
the muscles however the problem with baclofen is is that it doesn’t just relax
those muscles that have spasms it relaxes all your muscles it can have a
big side effect in making you very tired and drowsy and the other thing is baclofen
doesn’t work for everyone so personally when I was prescribed
baclofen the doctors gave it to me and I found it wasn’t really helping my spasms
so every time they reviewed me they just kept increasing the dose and increasing
the dose and I found this still didn’t really help my spasms at all but they
just kept making me more and more drowsy which was a really big downside for me
yeah and we found when we were talking to Craig back in those days we we talked
to him and he’d be sort of really unresponsive because he was so drowsy so
I’ve decided to come off the medication altogether and I use non-drug methods to
manage my spasms which we’ll talk about in a moment
so another way that you can manage your spasms with drugs is that instead of
taking oral baclofen there is a called a baclofen pump which sends
baclofen straight into your spinal cord instead of affecting all muscles
yes it’s an internal device like roughly the size of a hockey puck which sits
inside your abdomen and then it pumps it directly into your spinal cord which
has a more targeted effect than the oral baclofen and the benefit of that is
because it is more targeted you don’t need to take such a high dose for it to
work. So you think you don’t get the same side effects that you do from oral
baclofen yeah but you have to undergo a procedure to get this thing implanted
into your body so another way to manage your spasms is to get Botox injections
directly into your muscles now this is good because it’s targeted it targets
just the muscles which are giving you problems and it does this by blocking
the signals that your muscle sends to your spinal cord so it stops the spasms
and downsides of this is it’s very expensive and it has to be repeated
quite often to maintain its effectiveness. So one other medicinal
way you can stop spasms is by using CBD oil now CBD oil is quite a new thing
it’s not yet available everywhere it’s something that we have not tried or
have any experience personally of at all yeah but a lot of people have started
using it and have said it has had good benefits to reducing their spasms so
Craig doesn’t use any medicines to stop his spasms so if you don’t use
medicines how do you reduce your and manage your spasms. So the number one way of
reducing your spasms without using medicines is by regular stretching so
for me personally I find the majority of my spasms come from my hips and my leg
muscles getting tight so if I if everyday I proactively stretch out these
muscles I find that this drastically reduces the number of spasms I have so
now I’m just going to give you a demo of how I do this. So the first way I do my
stretches and I do this every day generally in the morning and evening is
on the bed so on the bed it means I can lay out flat and that gives my hips and
my legs a good stretch and as you’ll probably see this gets quite a lot of
spasms out so if I lay back. So already my stomach’s got really tight and my
legs are starting to go a little bit. So that gets a few spasms out.
Now once I’ve done that I then try to stretch my hips out even more by turning
onto my front. Okay so I turn to my front I cross my legs over… So when I’m on my
front I try to stay here for about half an hour so being on my front gives
my hips a really good stretch this really gets quite a lot of spasms out
but I find once they’re out that reduces them but it also has the benefit of
taking the weight off of my bum as well from the pressure perspective. So the
other stretch I like to do to help with my spasms is standing. Now standing is a
really good stretch for helping get the spasms out because not only have you got
a really big range of motion but you’re also weight-bearing on your joints which
really helps to stretch them out. I like to stand for a minimum of thirty minutes
a day and standing also doubles up as a way of improving the bone density in
your legs and for improving blood circulation. So they’re the main
stretches I do but another way you could stretch out is in a swimming pool
because that gives you the opportunity for your body to stretch out and because
of the ease of movement of your muscles in the water
I find this triggers a lot of spasms and therefore helps reduce them in the long
run. So the other way that I manage my spasms is by doing regular exercise and
moving so I find if I sit still for a long period of time then the spasms
start to build up and I can actually feel them starting to build up because my abs start
to get tight and sometimes even my bum starts to spasm which isn’t, it doesn’t
happen very often but as a sign that they really built up. So the way to
maintain this is just to keep moving all the time so this gets them all out in
little spasms through the day which sometimes you don’t even feel and that
stops them building up to a level where they’re annoying and uncomfortable. So
those are some of the ways that you can manage and reduce your spasms if you
found them useful please give this video a thumbs up and if you have any other
ways that you can manage your spasms which we haven’t mentioned please put a
comment down below and let us know about it. Remember to click on the subscribe
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So thank you for watching and we’ll see you in the next one bye bye



  2. Thanks for the leg cross tip! Building upper body strength helps me do these techniques. Some days there is minimal spasticity and some days more, nothing works. I haven't figured it out. Exposure to cold weather is sometimes a factor.

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