SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC CONTRACTURES
What can I do to improve my quality of life? Let’s get to know the origin of muscle pain and how we should treat it.
Nowadays, due both to the kind of work we carry out (repetitive or one that implies being still during long periods of time) and also because of different associated factors such as stress, it is frequent to find more and more people who live with pain or at least with a continual discomfort or muscle strain. For us as physiotherapists it is surprising that there are people who see this as being normal and that they have been living with pain or discomfort for months or years without considering that with adequate treatment it is possible to resolve it or at least improve it considerably and so achieve a better quality of life.
As physiotherapists at a certain moment we can help the patient by alleviating or reducing their pain with more or less aggressive treatments of the affected muscles. But especially in cases of chronic pain of a muscular origin, it is necessary that the patients assume their responsibility in the treatment or management of their pain.
Although in society nowadays we tend towards comfortable and quick solutions such as taking medicine (it is frightening to see how easily people self-medicate and, for example, take ibuprophen when suffering pain,), physiotherapy has alternatives to substitute the little ibuprophen “pill” for exercise and physical activity which help regulate our symptoms. Furthermore, perseverance with these kinds of exercises generates an understanding and self-consciousness that makes the patient more and more efficient when he or she applies these “self-treatments”.
Only in a very low percentage of cases, muscle contractures cause pain in the area where it is located (it is estimated between a 10-20% of cases according to different sources). For this reason, the typical advertisements for ointments and cream from the pharmaceutical industry which mark the area of pain with a red zone and conclude that the origin of your pain is in the area where it hurts seem to be very questionable from a scientific point of view. It is known that roundabout an 85% of muscle pain has its origin at a point further away in the direction of the body's midline. That is to say, shoulder or arm pain as a consequence of contractures in the shoulder girdle muscles or pseudosciatic pain due to contractures in the glutes area.
Amongst the exercises most recommended by physiotherapists so that patients being treated for strain and chronic muscle pain learn to reduce their pain, you find the carrying-out of light stretches and the compression of painful muscular points, many of which when being compressed can reproduce the patient’s pain. Self-massage of these muscles also proves very useful, as long as the intensity applied is not excessive.