One of those rare conditions is stiff man syndrome also called stiff person syndrome. There are also several other terms for this condition like Moersch-Woltmann syndrome, SMS or muscular rigidity – progressive spasm. The stiff person syndrome is an autoimmune condition affecting the central nervous system in the humans, thus leading to the occurrence of muscle stiffness and spasms. The most affected areas are spinal and lower limb regions. The stiff man syndrome may be caused by emotional stress and loud noise, as well as by sudden surprise. However, the main cause for the occurrence of stiff person syndrome is not established yet.
As already mentioned before, another name for this condition is Moersch-Woltmann syndrome, since these two experts were the first to describe the stiff man syndrome in 1956. They explained that when the agonist and antagonist muscles contract at the same time, it causes the person to become rigid or to fall down.
Symptoms of stiff man syndrome
The most common symptoms observed in the people suffering from this rare condition are the fluctuating rigidity of the muscles in the abdomen and the limbs, which further causes pain and stiffness in the back, stiff-legged walk and severe muscle spasm in the extremities when the person is, for example, excited or frightened.
Furthermore, exaggerated upright body posture, lordosis and deformed joints are also some of the warning signs of the stiff person syndrome. Other symptoms of this condition may also include shortness of breath, troublesome swallowing or smiling and, in same rare cases, even epilepsy is possible.
Diagnosing and treatment of stiff man syndrome
Since this condition is very rare, it is usually confused with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, fibromyalgia is a condition that has several symptoms that are also common for the stiff man syndrome.
However, after complete physical examination, antibody test and electromyography, which are necessary for the diagnosing of this condition, the doctor prescribes a proper treatment. The high dosage of diazepam and anticonvulsants such as gebapentin and tiagabine are important for reliving the symptoms of stiff man syndrome.