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Muscle Contracture


A muscle contracture occurs if the muscle in any part of the body has been over worked beyond its capacity or it may be due to a wrong posture. It is a persistent and involuntary muscle shortening. The most common problem arising from muscle contracture is back pain, sometimes mild and irritating, sometimes excruciating and unbearable. A wrong and faulty posture maintained for a long period can give rise to muscle contracture. Some spinal anomalies or imbalance in back muscle strength may cause the group to work more than necessary leading to a contracture. The remedy for this is proper exercise to compensate for this tendency.

The muscle contracture may put pressure on a nerve leading to pain. The muscle may compress an artery and the blood flow to the area may decrease giving rise to a string of problems. The decreased blood supply leading to less blood circulation in the area makes the muscle contract more and the less than normal blood supply activates the pain nerve. Also any back pain may cause muscle contracture by a reflex action. Here the contracture is not the cause of pain but may be an added factor.

People who are forced to be in a wheelchair due to an operation, accident, age, or are confined to the bed for any reason, may develop problems like muscle contractures. Elderly people or those who are forced to be in bed, have these complications because of lack of mobility and improper positioning. Doctors, nurses, family members or caregivers should help these people in changing their posture and position to minimize the risk of getting these complications. There may be joint stiffness and pain, especially among people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease or stroke. If back pain due to muscle contracture is the cause, then the prevention and cure lies in changing the position every two hours or so, supporting the affected side with pillows. Regular exercise also helps in reducing the pain and the stiffness.

People, mostly children, who have contracted polio, often have their limbs out of proportion and shape. Polio is a viral infection, which can be prevented if an infant is given oral polio doses at regular periods, as advised by the doctor. Because of muscular imbalance, the knee or the leg change their position and become bent or unusable. Correction lies in proper exercise and fitting the legs with standardized calipers and shoes. Muscle contractures in polio-affected people make their legs weak and not normal. Cure in their case may not be total but the affliction can definitely be lessened with proper medical care and advice.

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