Stiff person syndrome (SPS) is a rare neurological disorder with features of an autoimmune disease. Symptoms may include muscle stiffness in the trunk and limbs, and heightened sensitivity to noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms. Affected people may also have abnormal postures, such as being hunched over. SPS affects twice as many women as men. It is frequently associated with other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, thyroiditis, vitiligo, and pernicious anemia. The exact causes of SPS is not known. Treatment may involve high-dose diazepam, anti-convulsants, or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).
Last updated: 10/8/2014
How might stiff person syndrome be treated?
Treatment of stiff person syndrome (SPS) focuses on the specific symptoms present in each person. Benzodiazepines may be used to treat muscle stiffness and episodic spasms; baclofen may be used in addition to benzodiazepines. Anti-seizure drugs have reportedly been effective for some people. More recently, studies have shown that intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is effective in improving many of the symptoms of SPS. Research involving additional treatment options for SPS is ongoing.
You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling 1-800-411-1222 to speak with a specialist who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials. If you are located outside the United States and would like to be contacted via telephone, you will need to contact the PRPL and provide your telephone number in full, including area code and international dialing prefix.
You can find information about participating in a clinical trial, as well as learn about resources for travel and lodging assistance, through the How to Get Involved in Research section of our website.
Last updated: 9/3/2016
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