Effects of spasms and stiffness

Spasms and stiffness can range from a minor annoyance to problems that make daily life and activities uncomfortable, painful and difficult.

Extremely strong spasms can jerk the body quite dramatically, causing limbs to move with considerable force, or be held in uncomfortable positions.


Person massaging their stiff knee

Spasms sometimes cause particular problems at night. The 'jerking' they can cause to the body – often the legs – might wake you or your partner several times a night.

Not getting a good night's sleep can make living with MS more difficult, possibly making other symptoms worse, such as fatigue and weakness.


Both muscle spasms and stiffness can be painful, though they are not always. You might feel the dull ache of stiff muscles, or a sharper pain if they spasm.

Muscle problems can also interfere with good posture, causing back pain, for example. If pain is an issue for you, let your doctor or MS nurse know.

Find out more about treating pain.

Stiffness having a positive effect

If your leg muscles are weak, for example, a certain amount of stiffness can help keep the legs rigid and stable for walking and standing. If this is the case, it may be better to monitor the situation to prevent further complications, rather than try and remove the stiffness completely.

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