Stiff-person syndrome, also known as Moersch-Woltman condition, is a neurological disorder characterized by fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs and an enhanced sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress. Muscle spasms may also be present as a result of the sensitivity to various stimuli, leading to abnormal postures and stiffening. Stiff-person syndrome (SPS) is more common in women than in men and is often associated with other autoimmune diseases including, pernicious anemia, diabetes, vitiligo, and thyroiditis. The exact cause of stiff-person syndrome is unknown, but research indicates that it is the result of an autoimmune response gone awry in the brain and spinal cord.
People with stiff-person syndrome can be too disabled to walk or move, or they are afraid to leave the house because street noises, such as the sound of a horn, can trigger spasms and falls.
Treatment for stiff-person syndrome is generally medication to control symptoms. Anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants, and pain relievers will improve the symptoms of Stiff-Person syndrome, but will not cure the disorder.
It is discouraging to those who are eventually diagnosed with SPS that a lack of awareness of the disease is often responsible for a prolonged delay in diagnosis.