This study focuses on the unique subjective experience of spasticity in patients with MS in order to give clinicians and nurses additional insights into how to support patients dealing with this frustrating symptom.
Spasticity is one of the central symptoms experienced by individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and is a cause of increased disability. Spasticity is clinically characterized by an increase in muscle tone, leading to stiffness, pain, and mobility issues. The lower extremities are more frequently affected by spasticity, and although severity can vary between patients, it tends to limit social life and increase depression in the majority of patients. It has also been linked to causing gait issues, falls, fatigue, sleep disorders, and pain. This qualitative study used the hermeneutic phenomenological framework to understand how patients with multiple sclerosis view their spasticity from their own perspective, with the aim of giving nurses and clinicians further insight into how to evaluate and treat this symptom group.
The data for this study were evaluated using VanManen’s thematic analysis method. Patients were questioned about the various ways that spasticity affects their life, and the answer format allowed them to provide additional information while also providing numerically quantifiable information using the Modified Ashworth Scale. The study focused on understanding the descriptive and numerical information contained in the patients’ responses, and their answers were categorized by theme.
Many patients described having difficulty understanding spasticity, as well as frustration with how it debilitates and limits their life. These social and psychological difficulties provide additional context for how to discuss spasticity in a clinical context. Patients described benefits from social support as well as pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, such as massage. The authors note that these data are useful from a clinical perspective, as they can allow doctors and nurses to develop greater sensitivity to the psychological and social needs of their patients as a way to reduce their suffering and support them during treatment.
Özkan, İ., Polat Dunya, C., & Demir, S. (2023). Life Experiences of Patients With Multiple Sclerosis About Their Spasticity: A Phenomenological Study. Clinical Nursing Research, 32(1), 49-59. https://doi.org/10.1177/10547738221119346