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Pract Neurol 11:272-282 doi:10.1136/practneurol-2011-000071
  • Reviews

Stiff person syndrome

  1. Gavin Giovannoni1
  1. 1Department of Neuroscience and Trauma, Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  2. 2Centre for Diabetes, Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shahrzad Hadavi, Department of Neuroscience and Trauma, Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, 4 Newark Street, London E1 2AT, UK; shahrzadhadavi{at}doctors.org.uk
  • Accepted 3 August 2011

Abstract

Stiff person syndrome (SPS) is a rare disorder, characterised by fluctuating rigidity and stiffness of the axial and proximal lower limb muscles, with superimposed painful spasms and continuous motor unit activity on electromyography. Although rare in general neurology practice, once observed it is unforgettable. The general neurologist may see only one or two cases during his or her career and as such it remains underdiagnosed. Left untreated, SPS symptoms can progress to cause significant disability. Patients have a poor quality of life and an excess rate of comorbidity and mortality. The severity of symptoms and lack of public awareness of the condition create anxiety and uncertainty for people with the disease. This review aims to raise awareness of SPS and to improve the likelihood of its earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.