What Is Adult Upper Limb Spasticity?

Upper Limb Spasticity

Upper Limb Spasticity symptomsUpper Limb Spasticity symptoms

Affecting the arms, specifically the elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand muscles

Increase in muscle tension causing tightness, stiffness, or uncontrollable pull of muscles

An estimated 12 million adult patients worldwide suffer from spasticity1

5 Common Patterns2

Flexed elbow.

Flexed elbow

Bent wrist.

Bent wrist

Pronated forearm.

Pronated forearm

Clenched fist.

Clenched fist

Thumb in palm.

Thumb in palm


  • Stroke (most common cause)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord problems (such as lesions)
  • Cerebral palsy in adults


  • Muscle stiffness (known as hypertonia)
  • Limited range of movement
  • Reduced ability to relax muscles
  • Muscle spasms
  • Changes in limb position
  • Pain


  1. Spasticity. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Spasticity. Accessed June 27, 2019.
  2. Differential diagnosis for spasticity. NeuroRehab Resource website. http://www.neurorehabresource.org/Files/NRR_Differential_Diagnosis.pdf. Accessed June 27, 2019.
  3. Spasticity, what is it? American Stroke Association website. https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/effects-of-stroke/physical-effects-of-stroke/physical-impact/spasticity. Accessed November 6, 2019.