Muscle rigidity
Muscle rigidity is an alteration of muscle tone in which the muscles are in an involuntary state of continual tension. Muscle rigidity can be ...

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Definition

Muscle rigidity is a state of continuous firm, tense muscles with marked resistance to passive movement.

Alternative Names

Muscular rigidity, rigidity, rigor.

Synopsis

Muscle rigidity is an alteration of muscle tone in which the muscles are in an involuntary state of continual tension. Muscle rigidity can be a manifestation of neurological damage (basal ganglia diseases) or a side effect of certain medications. Muscle rigidity is the continuous, tonic contraction of the skeletal muscles, often more marked in the flexor muscles than extensors.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Calcium deficiency disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Necrotizing vasculitis
  • Polio
  • Osteomalacia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Tetanus
  • Weils disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Seizures
  • Stiff-person syndrome
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS)
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Contractures
  • Side effect of medications

Diagnosis and Treatment

A thorough evaluation by a physician is indicated for muscle rigidity. The evaluation will determine which muscles are affected. Reflexes, sensation and muscle tone will be assessed. If further investigation is needed, the doctor may order diagnostic studies such as a CT scan, MRI, nerve conduction studies or electromyography as well as laboratory tests (drawing blood). The treatment will depend on the underlying problem and the severity of the symptoms.

Call your provider:

Whenever there is muscle rigidity.

Call 911:

  • Whenever there is chest wall rigidity resulting in difficulty breathing
  • If muscle rigidity is resulting in changes in level of consciousness, including agitation and restlessness

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: October 5, 2007
Last Updated: October 31, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
Licensed from
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