Learn More About Stiff-Person Syndrome: Overview

Vaibhav Saxena

, Health A2Z

The Stiff-Person Syndrome is an adverse condition which is followed by different and distinctive impacts which differ from one person to another. The symptoms are generally visible and traceable by the sufferer whereas the curing procedure can be unpredictable as for some it is entirely curable and others it is not. The syndrome is rare in nature but can become chronic in nature, let’s learn more about it with elucidated facts and definitions.


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What is Stiff-Person Syndrome?

The Stiff-Person Syndrome, abbreviated as SPS, is also termed as Stiff-Man Syndrome (SMS) which is a rare disorder which occurs with steady spasms and stiffness of the axial muscles. This syndrome is considered to be associated with an electromyographic pattern of continuous motor unit activity in affected muscles. These spasms affect truncal muscles which result in postural deformities.


The SPS is known for its rareness as it is found in person out of a million people and majorly middle-aged people are affected by this disorder. The Stiff-Man Syndrome can also cause anxiety and depression-like condition in a person’s mind which makes it more fatal and severe.




What are the Symptoms of Stiff-Person Syndrome?

The symptoms of Stiff-Man Syndrome occurs accordingly in stages. The initial stage causes stiffness, anxiety, and depression whereas the mental condition worsens along with the stage progresses. Gradually, the body muscles become more rigid and the stiff that the person might even fall down while simply standing.

The prime major symptoms and signs are enlisted below.

  • Stiff muscles in the trunk
  • Stiff muscles in the limb
  • Spasms
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Sensory troubles like sensitivity to light, noise, and sound
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Posture problems from a rigid spinal cord
  • Panic attacks




What is the Cause of Stiff-Person Syndrome?

The prime cause behind the Stiff-Man Syndrome is undiscovered and hence unknown whereas, in 80% of the cases, the disorder is aroused due to the attack of GAD antibodies. The GAD is expanded to Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase, which is an enzyme that catalyzes the decarboxylation in the body. The increased amount of these enzymes as antibodies increases the risks of SPS.


Genetics of a person also plays an important role in increasing the risks of Stiff-Person Syndrome. There are many genetic factors that are inherited by an individual through their parents or have developed selfly that lead to this condition.

  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Vitiligo
  • Thyroiditis


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What is the Diagnosis of Stiff-Person Syndrome?

As we discussed earlier, the GAD antibodies are the prime cause behind the occurrence of the Stiff-Man Syndrome. However, the diagnosis begins with the examination of the physical condition of the sufferer along with testing the medical history.


Furthermore, the doctor conducts a blood test to examine the status of the GAD antibodies in the body. The doctor might also require to conduct a screening test named electromyography (EMG) to measure muscular electrical activity.


The SPS is often mistaken with similar symptom showing diseases that are multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease which can also arouse troubles as exact treatment is not provided to the patient.




How to Treat Stiff-Person Syndrome?

The SPS is a recurring condition which has a none exact shoot treatment procedure. Hence, the treatment revolves around the managing and controlling of the symptoms that are aroused in the disorder. Underlying are the possible treatment measures.


1. Medications

Pain medications and muscles relaxants can be provided to relieve the muscles spasms and stiffness. Anti- Seizures medications are provided to avoid rigidness and sudden stiffness in the body. Also, in the case of mental traumas, anti-depressants and sedatives are given which can become addictive.


2. Other Treatment Procedures

There is some invasive procedure like autologous stem cell transplants, where the blood and bone marrow cells are collected and multiplied before transferring back to your body and plasmapheresis, where the blood plasma is traded with new plasma to reduce the number of antibodies in the body.





The Stiff-Person Syndrome (SPS) is surely a rare condition but causes multiple troubles for a person to lead a healthy life. These troubles vary from mental to physical that means the entire body is affected. Hence, the repercussion of this disorder can be fatal and chronic for a person. The patient must recognize the early symptoms that are associated with this syndrome and must consult the specialized doctor.


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