July 15, 2024
Home » Reducing Stiff Person Syndrome: Expert Advice and Techniques

Can individuals with stiff person syndrome incorporate non-surgical treatments to reduce muscle stiffness and restore muscle mobility?


The musculoskeletal system allows the body’s extremities to be mobile, provides stability to the host, and has an outstanding relationship with the other body systems. The musculoskeletal system’s muscles, tissues, and ligaments help protect the body’s vital organs from environmental factors. However, many individuals often deal with repetitive motions in the upper and lower body extremities that can cause pain and discomfort. Additionally, environmental factors, illnesses, and injuries can affect the musculoskeletal system and play a part in co-morbidities in overlapping risk profiles. These issues can cause the musculoskeletal system to develop a condition known as stiff person syndrome. Today’s articles focus on what stiff person syndrome is, the symptoms it is associated with, and how non-surgical treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of stiff person syndrome. We discuss with certified associated medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess stiff person syndrome and its associated symptoms affecting the musculoskeletal system. We also inform and guide patients while asking their associated medical provider intricate questions to integrate non-surgical treatments to reduce the overlapping symptoms correlating with stiff person syndrome. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.


What Is Stiff Person Syndrome


Have you been dealing with muscle stiffness in your lower extremities affecting your mobility? Have you noticed that your posture is rigid due to ongoing muscle spasms in your lower back? Or have you felt tightness in your back muscles? Many pain-like symptoms are associated with back pain, a common musculoskeletal condition; however, they can also correlate with a rare condition known as stiff person syndrome. Stiff person syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder that is progressive and is characterized by rigidity and stimulus-triggered painful muscle spasms that affect the lower body and extremities. (Muranova & Shanina, 2024) There are three classifications that a person is experiencing with stiff person syndrome, and they are:

  • Classic Stiff Person Syndrome
  • Partial Stiff Person Syndrome
  • Stiff Person Syndrome Plus

Since stiff person syndrome is a rare condition, many individuals may not exhibit any objective findings early on, which then causes a delayed diagnosis that can impact a person’s quality of life (Newsome & Johnson, 2022). At the same time, since stiff person syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease, it can affect the musculoskeletal system with associated pain-like symptoms.


The Symptoms

Some symptoms associated with stiff person syndrome that can develop over time are muscle stiffness and painful muscle spasms. This is because the neuron receptors from the central nervous system can become haywire and cause non-specific somatic symptoms that make the individuals deal with comorbid chronic pain and myofascial tenderness in the muscles. (Chia et al., 2023) This is because stiff person syndrome can spread into different areas of the musculoskeletal system and can gradually develop over time. For muscle stiffness associated with stiff person syndrome, the muscles can become stiff over time, causing pain and discomfort, thus leading to many individuals developing abnormal posture, making it difficult to be mobile. Muscle spasms can affect the entire body itself or in a specific location and cause intense pain that lasts for hours. However, many individuals can incorporate non-surgical treatments to reduce the pain-like symptoms in the musculoskeletal system.


Movement Medicine: Chiropractic Care- Video

Non-Surgical Treatments For Stiff Person Syndrome

When it comes to reducing the musculoskeletal pain symptoms of stiff person syndrome, many individuals can begin to go to their primary doctor for early diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan to manage the pain-like symptoms and provide a positive impact in creating awareness of this rare condition. (Elsalti et al., 2023) By assessing the pain-like symptoms of stiff person syndrome, many people can incorporate non-surgical treatments to manage the musculoskeletal pain symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life. Non-surgical treatments are cost-effective and can be combined with other therapies to restore mobility. One of the primary goals for managing stiff person syndrome is through pain management, symptom relief, and improved quality of life. (Cirnigliaro et al., 2021)


Chiropractic Care For Stiff Person Syndrome

One of the non-surgical treatments that can help reduce symptoms of muscle spasms and muscle stiffness is chiropractic care. Chiropractic care incorporates mechanical and manual manipulation to stretch and mobilize the joint-muscle function while reducing pain and discomfort. (Coulter et al., 2018) For individuals suffering from stiff person syndrome, chiropractic care can help reduce muscle stiffness and muscle spasms in the upper and lower extremities and relieve the pain. Additionally, incorporating non-surgical treatments like chiropractic care and combined therapies can help manage the musculoskeletal pain associated with stiff person syndrome and improve a person’s quality of life.



Chia, N. H., McKeon, A., Dalakas, M. C., Flanagan, E. P., Bower, J. H., Klassen, B. T., Dubey, D., Zalewski, N. L., Duffy, D., Pittock, S. J., & Zekeridou, A. (2023). Stiff person spectrum disorder diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and suggested diagnostic criteria. Ann Clin Transl Neurol, 10(7), 1083-1094. doi.org/10.1002/acn3.51791

Cirnigliaro, F. A., Gauthier, N., & Rush, M. (2021). Management of refractory pain in Stiff-Person syndrome. BMJ Case Rep, 14(1). doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2020-237814

Coulter, I. D., Crawford, C., Hurwitz, E. L., Vernon, H., Khorsan, R., Suttorp Booth, M., & Herman, P. M. (2018). Manipulation and mobilization for treating chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Spine J, 18(5), 866-879. doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2018.01.013

Elsalti, A., Darkhabani, M., Alrifaai, M. A., & Mahroum, N. (2023). Celebrities and Medical Awareness-The Case of Celine Dion and Stiff-Person Syndrome. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 20(3). doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20031936

Muranova, A., & Shanina, E. (2024). Stiff Person Syndrome. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/34424651

Newsome, S. D., & Johnson, T. (2022). Stiff person syndrome spectrum disorders; more than meets the eye. J Neuroimmunol, 369, 577915. doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroim.2022.577915


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The information herein on "Reducing Stiff Person Syndrome: Expert Advice and Techniques" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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