Ankle spasticity following a stroke or traumatic brain injury

Ankle Spasticity Following a Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury

Ankle spasticity following a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a debilitating and painful condition. It can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and tightness in the affected area and can significantly limit movement in the legs. Spasticity occurs when the muscles become overly tight and stiff, and can be caused by damage to the central nervous system. It is a common complication of a stroke or TBI as the inactivity of the affected area causes tightness in the muscles.

There are several treatments available for managing ankle spasticity, including physical therapy, stretching, bracing, medications, and botulinum toxin injections.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an important part of managing spasticity. A physical therapist can design an individualized exercise program to help improve range of motion and reduce stiffness. Strengthening and stretching exercises can help to loosen tight muscles, reduce pain and improve mobility.


Stretching the affected ankle can be beneficial in reducing spasticity. Simple stretching exercises such as a standing calf stretch or ankle circles can be done on a regular basis to improve movement. If the spasticity is severe, a physical therapist can help prescribe specific stretching exercises.


Bracing can be used to help control spasticity in the ankle. An ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) is a custom-made brace that is worn around the leg to provide additional support and help reduce stiffness and improve mobility. AFOs come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be adjusted to fit the affected leg.


Certain medications can be prescribed to help relieve spasticity and reduce pain. These medications work by targeting the nervous system to help relax the muscles and reduce stiffness. Examples of medications commonly used to reduce spasticity include baclofen, tizanidine, and diazepam.

Botulinum Toxin Injections

Botulinum toxin injections can also be used to reduce muscle spasticity in the ankle. These injections work by temporarily paralyzing the targeted muscle, which helps ease tightness and maintain range of motion. These injections do not provide long-term relief and must be repeated every few months to maintain the effects.

Ankle spasticity can be a difficult condition to manage, but with the right treatments it is possible to improve mobility and reduce stiffness. Physical therapy, stretching, bracing, medications, and botulinum toxin injections are all potential treatments that can be used to help manage ankle spasticity following a stroke or TBI.