young woman on crutches

Stiff Person Syndrome Is Not What You Think It Is

February 24, 2023

It sounds like something most of us have experienced at one time or another, particularly as we age. But stiff person syndrome is among the rarest of diseases, affecting fewer than 5,000 people in the United States. 

Claire S. Riley, MD

Claire S. Riley, MD

People with stiff person syndrome are stiff, but it’s nothing like how you feel after extended time on the couch or a night with a bad mattress. People who have stiff person syndrome experience alternating rigidity and spasm in their muscles. Muscles can be so rigid that they feel like a board. And the muscle spasms, which are extremely painful and can be triggered by stress or other external factors, can create enough force to break bones. 

"The condition tends to worsen insidiously and have a profound impact on ease of movement, causing an awkward and uncomfortable gait,” says Columbia University neurologist Claire Riley, MD. “Particularly when it is not recognized, stiff person syndrome can be severe and life-altering or even life-threatening." [read more]

Source: CUIMC Newsroom