Stiff Man’s Syndrome

Joint and Muscle Problems Associated with Diabetes

Connective Tissue Disorders
Tests Your Doctor May Carry Out
Frozen Shoulder
Trigger Finger
Dupuytren’s Contracture
Carpel Tunnel
Stiff Man’s Syndrome [SMS] Also Known as Stiff Person’s Syndome
Diffuse idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis [DISH]


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Stiff Man’s Syndrome [SMS] Now Also Known as Stiff Person’s Syndrome

This is a rare slow progressive neurological disorder and the symptoms are painful contractions and spasms of voluntary muscles, particularly those of the back and upper legs. It is caused by rogue antibodies in the blood causing muscles to lock unexpectedly leaving the person with this condition paralysed for minutes or hours at a time. The symptoms may worsen when the person is exposed to anxiety or sudden motion or noise. Sleep usually suppresses the frequency of the contractions.

Researchers think that stiff person’s syndrome may be an autoimmune disorder. How rare is rare? This is difficult to estimate because doctors often think that the symptoms are psychological or due to depression. 50% of people with SMS also have Type 1 diabetes although the link between the two conditions has not been proved scientifically.

It is interesting to note that the information on the National Institute of Health website says that other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes may occur more frequently in people with Stiff Man’s Syndrome. Interesting because if we look at the diabetes literature it is described the other way around as a ‘rare complication of diabetes’!

Treatment – The drug diazepam, a muscle relaxant, provides improvement in most cases, as do some other drugs. Physiotherapy may also be helpful in some people.