Pain Management for Spastic Paraplegia

I am 69 years old and have been diagnosed with a nerve condition called spastic paraplegia 4 (SPG4). I am looking for information about the disorder and am particularly interested in help with pain management. Any information that you can provide would be helpful.

According to the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, located in Freemont, California, your diagnosis falls under a constellation of rare, inherited neurological disorders known as hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). Their primary symptoms are progressive spasticity and weakness of the leg and hip muscles. Researchers estimate that some 30 different types of HSP exist, including your specific diagnosis; the genetic causes are known for 11. The condition is characterized by insidiously progressive lower extremity weakness and spasticity. HSP is classified as “uncomplicated” or “pure” if neurological impairment is limited to the lower body. Complicated or complex HSP is diagnosed if other systems are involved or if other neurological conditions are present, including pain. The hallmark of the HSP syndrome is progressive difficulty walking due to increasingly weak and stiff muscles. It is diagnosed through careful clinical examination and an observation period to see if other symptoms develop that would indicate another condition. Currently, no treatments are available to prevent, stop, or reverse HSP. Treatment is focused on symptom relief, including medication to reduce spasticity and pain, physical therapy and exercise to help maintain flexibility and range of motion, assistive devices, and communication aids. The Spastic Paraplegia Foundation has an excellent website and provides multiple resources. Visit https://sp-foundation.org for more information.

Want to read more pain questions and answers? See our Pain Q&A section.

Our expert: Jackson Rainer is a board-certified clinical psychologist who practices with the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia, helping people living with chronic illnesses. He consults with a variety of experts to answer a selection of readers’ questions in each issue of Pain-Free Living.

Have questions about living with and managing chronic pain? Email questions to [email protected]. Please put “PFL Q&A” in the subject line.

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Pain-Free Living.
About Our Experts >>

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.