Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy: Challenges in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis


  • Barbara Ridley MS RN FNP APRN-BC CRRN

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Barbara Ridley, MS RN FNP APRN-BC CRRN, is a nurse practitioner at the Spasticity Management Clinic, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, CA.

2001 Dwight Way, Suite 2350, Berkeley, CA, 96704;


Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) is a recognized therapy for severe spasticity of both spinal and cerebral origin, with documented positive clinical outcomes for many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). This article reviews some specific considerations concerning the use of ITB in the MS population, based on the author's 10 years of clinical experience. The unpredictable and progressive nature of the disease affects the identification of appropriate goals, the patient's decision-making process, and the evaluation of the response to the treatment over time. Patients with MS may be more sensitive to intrathecal baclofen than patients with other diagnoses, and may need a lower dose for both the screening test and maintenance therapy. Subtle cognitive changes may affect the patient's ability to understand the education needed for successful management of ITB. Some practical strategies are offered for the nurse involved in the care of these patients in each stage of the therapy.