spasticity and/or shortened achilles tendons


I’ve been having problems with my legs for about nine months now. My lower legs, especially, get very tight – I stretch often, and it helps, but the effect doesn’t last long. I’ve had a couple appointments with a neurologist, and have been seeing a physical therapist for about six months. The problem had actually gotten a lot better before I even saw a doctor or PT about it, and PT has helped somewhat, but snce that first big improvement there hasn’t been much further sustained improvement.

Both of the PTs I’ve seen seem focused on high muscle tone as the primary problem. The neurologist I saw remarked on high muscle tone in my calves when I first saw her, but now seems to see the primary problem as shortened achilles tendons. (The PTs also see shortened achilles tendons, but I get the impression that they see the shortened tendons as a consequence of high muscle tone.)

To me, it seems more likely that the PTs are right – I’m a former dancer who has worked throughout this to try to keep my achilles from contracting – but well, I don’t really know, and at this point the tendons definitely seem to have shortened.

Apparently I don’t have clonus, which I understand is a hallmark of spasticity – but then again, my first PT mentions in her notes that she she can’t test for clonus effectively because the tone gets in the way of doing a quick ankle stretch (?). Haven’t seen my new PT’s notes, but when I saw her yesterday she asked if the neuro was planning to put me on medication for increased muscle tone (no mention of medication from the neuro).

Anyway, it’s all confusing. The neuro has referred me to an orthopedist for shortened tendons, which seems like a good idea to me, but I still wonder if something is being overlooked. The leg thing isn’t the only problem I’ve had; it’s just the only somewhat visible one. Mostly I want to believe that nothing else is wrong, but there’s also a part of me that feels like I must be slightly crazy if nothing else is actually wrong, because then why do I feel like I need to spend a few days in bed every week in order to have barely enough energy to do my job?

I’ve had lumbar and thoracic spine MRIs with contrast, and a brain MRI without contrast. The spine ones seem normal except for the lumbar one shows inflammation that they say reflects lower back pain, which I have from the leg issues. My neuro says the brain one is also normal although there are some spots, but everyone has some spots and these spots wouldn’t be causing the leg problems. Had EMG and nerve conduction tests done on my legs a while back too, and the results were normal.

So… that was a lot of rambling. But if anyone has any suggestions or thoughts, I would be very grateful.

hi AK

i have very similar issues with my legs and all the medics comment on high tone.

it feels like i’m a marrionette with strings too short and about to snap.

keep on with the physio.

carole x

similar problems, but not exactly the same.

I am totally immobile, so dont get the stretch in the soles of my feet and have shortened tendons at the back of my knees.

I get pain when my legs are sraightened…eg at the podiatrist

what helps with the feet is a splint…an bulky contraption fastened onto the feet and strapped up the leg. It stretches without pain.


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A physiotherapist gave me exercises for strength.

I said my muscles were too tight to exercise. She gave me stretch exercises.

I did the stretch exercises. Now I can do the strength exercises.

Moral of this story:



Thanks everyone for your comments. I do stretch and exercise, and physio has helped some. Just starting to use night splints on the advice of the PT this week, will see how it goes.