Stiff Person Syndrome

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What is Stiff Person Syndrome

  • Rare neurologic disorder characterized by severe muscle rigidity
  • As with tetanus, generalized spasms can be precipitated by movements, noise, touch, or emotional stimulation
  • Unlike tetanus, stiff person syndrome does not include trismus or facial spasms and responds quickly to diazepam
  • The symptoms of this syndrome are fluctuating trunk and limb stiffness, painful muscle spasms, task-specific phobia, an exaggerated startle response, and ankylosing deformities such as fixed lumbar hyperlordosis.


  1. Moersch-Woltman syndrome
  2. SMS
  3. SPS
  4. Stiff man syndrome

Symptoms and Signs of Stiff Person Syndrome

Very Common Symptoms and Signs (80%-98%)

  • Anxiety 
  • EMG abnormality 
  • Falls 
  • Hyperhidrosis 
  • Intermittent painful muscle spasms

Common Symptoms and Signs (30%-79%)

  • Agoraphobia 
  • Autoimmune antibody positivity 
  • Difficulty walking 
  • Emotional lability 
  • Exaggerated startle response 
  • Paraspinal muscle hypertrophy 
  • Rigidity 

Occasional Symptoms and Signs (5%-29%)

  • Diabetes mellitus 
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Lumbar hyperlordosis

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