Stiff-man syndrome is a rare disorder of the central nervous system characterized by painful involuntary stiffening of axial muscles accompanied by spasms. Symptomatology is often precipitated by tactile or emotional stimuli, volitional movements and startling noises. It is occasionally associated with epilepsy and endocrine disorders, including insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Certain diagnostic criteria are essential for the diagnosis of Stiff-man syndrome since the initial clinical manifestations are similar to those of other neuromuscular diseases. Research findings support the theory of central nervous system autoimmunity with resultant impairment of neuronal pathways as the probable pathogenesis of Stiff-man syndrome.
Questions or comments about this article may he directed to Paul T. Spada. DPM. Podiatry Department, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland 20889. He is a Lieutenant Commander in the medical services corps. United States Navy.
Jacqueline B. Spada, RN, BSN, MBA is an Administrative Supervisor at Holy Cross Hospital Home Care and Hospice in Silver Spring. Maryland.
© 1994 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses