What Is Hypertonicity?

With Dr. Nick Housley 19th Nov, 21


A stroke can disrupt the cells in your brain and spinal cord that send signals to your muscles, affecting how they work. It will cause various motor disorders, such as spasticity, hypotonicity, and hypertonicity. However, you can perform several stroke recovery exercises and training to reduce muscle impairments, depending on your condition, after consulting a therapist.

Poststroke Hypertonicity

The resistance in stretching the muscle is called muscle tone. The muscles have a certain level of tone and tension. Hypertonicity is the state of being hypertonic in which you have more tension or tone in your muscles that causes the change in your muscle length. Poststroke hypertonicity happens because the balance in the brain and spinal cord cells is disrupted, affecting the movement signals to the muscles.

For instance, if you have hypertension in your bicep, it will be hard for you to extend your elbow. The stroke survivors have difficulty performing their daily life activities because of reduced motion of muscles and joints.

Additionally, you cannot move your body to perform a task in this situation. It can lead to paralyzed muscles, postural change, mobility, pain, loss of motion of joints, difficulties in balance, and reduced quality of life. Your joints lose the ability to move and stretch, and you will need therapy to increase flexibility to reduce muscle tone in stroke recovery.

What Causes Hypertonicity?

After a stroke, hypertonicity or hypertonia can occur when the parts of the brain or spinal cord that control muscle signals get damaged. However, a brain tumor and even a blow to the head can also cause hypertonia. Moreover, there is no specific time when hypertonicity will affect you after a stroke. You may notice it immediately or months after the stroke.

How Can You Diagnose And Treat Hypertonicity?

The hypertonicity can be diagnosed by measuring volitional movement, passive stretch, and passive/active function. These can be used to differentiate between various motor abnormalities such as spasticity, hypotonicity, spastic contraction, weakness, and hypertonicity.

You can use different medications and botox to treat hypertonicity; however, physical therapy is recommended. You can see a therapist for personalized exercises and stretches. Additionally, you may try repetitive task therapy, splinting, orthotics, injections, electric stimulation to reduce tension in your weakened muscle during stroke recovery.

Further, make sure you get proper sleep, exercise daily, eat a healthy diet, reduce alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and maintain your body weight to prevent stroke and these kinds of impairments.

Are Spasticity And Hypertonicity The Same?

Spasticity is a type of hypertonicity that causes stiffness in muscles because of quick movement. On the other hand, hypertonicity can cause paralyzed muscles and limit the movement of joints. You may have hypertonicity but not spasticity in your muscles. Still, spasticity and hypertonicity are used interchangeably sometimes, but they are different.


To conclude, one can say that strokes can cause paralysis, weak and stiff muscles, impairment in the body, and lack of coordination. It will result in difficulty in performing motor functions and daily life activities. Nevertheless, physical therapy and oral training can help manage impairments in the stroke recovery process.

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