Stiffness

Stiffness: Definition, Causes, Diagnostic Procedures, and Treatment

What is stiffness?

Stiffness is a feeling of resistance when trying to move. It can be caused by inflammation or a collection of fluid that limits space or boundaries. If stiffness is caused by inflammation in the tissues, it is usually worse after extended periods of rest or inactivity. For example, when you are in bed asleep for seven to nine hours, fluid collects due to inflammation around injured tissues in the spinal column. When you get out of bed for the day and start moving around, the fluid clears and the stiffness goes away. How long stiffness lasts and how severe it is can be an indication of how much inflammation is present.

Muscle stiffness is when muscles feel tight and a person finds it more difficult to move than usual especially after rest. A person with stiffness may also have muscle pains, cramping, and discomfort. This is different from muscle rigidity and spasticity. With these two symptoms, the muscles stay stiff even when you’re not moving.

Muscle stiffness usually resolves on its own. Relief from stiff muscles can be achieved with regular exercise and stretching. But in some cases, muscle stiffness can be a sign of something more serious, especially if there are other symptoms present. Medical attention is needed if muscle stiffness comes along with fever, especially with stiffness in the neck, extreme muscle weakness, redness, pain, and swelling in the area with muscle stiffness, and muscle pain that began after taking new medications. The presence of these symptoms could mean there is an underlying condition.

Causes of Stiffness

Muscle stiffness typically occurs after exercise, hard physical work, or lifting weights. Also present after periods of inactivity, like when you get out of bed in the morning or get out of a chair after sitting for a long time.

Sprains and strains are the most common reasons for muscle stiffness. Sprains and strains from activity may also cause pain, redness, swelling, bruising, and limited movement. Other common conditions that may cause stiff muscles include insect bites, infection, injury from extreme heat or cold, and anesthesia or medication used for surgery.

The stiffness of muscles with other symptoms may mean an underlying condition. In addition to sprains and muscle strains, there are other conditions that cause muscle stiffness such as bacterial and viral infections like

    • -Tetanus
    • -Meningitis
    • -HIV infections
    • -Infectious Mononucleosis.

 

But by far the most familiar source of inflammation and stiffness is Aging. Everyone gets more inflamed as they age and it happens to some people sooner and worse than others like arthritis (which may itself just be one of the effects of the inflammation.

Diagnosis

There are so many possibilities of stiffness, ranging from undiagnosed pathology to the purely psychological. Hence, a thorough medical history and physical examination are very crucial in diagnosing causes of stiffness. Asking which symptom appeared first may help determine the underlying cause. Diagnostic procedures for stiffness may include:

    • Laboratory tests
    • X-raysDamage to your bones will be visible on X-rays, but the damage caused by Osteomyelitis may not be detected on an X-ray film until it has been in your bone for several weeks. If your Osteomyelitis symptoms are more recent, you may need tests that can provide more detailed images.

 

    • CT scansThis test uses X-rays taken from several different angles and combines them to create very detailed cross-sectional images of your internal structures. Computed Tomography can go hand in hand with an MRI scan to effectively produce pictures that may assist the doctor in determining if you have a stroke and what is likely the cause.

 

    • MRI scansThis test uses strong magnets and radio waves to produce images of bones and soft tissues that are very detailed. Magnetic Resonance Imaging can be used to diagnose if you have a stroke based on your signs of a stroke, and what type of stroke you are having to effectively determine what is its cause.

 

 

 

 

Treatment for Stiffness

Specific treatments are dependent on what are the underlying causes of stiffness. Anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, are prescribed to lessen pain and discomfort caused by stiffness. Rest, massage and application of heat or cold can be of help. Heat may work better for muscle tightness. Cold may work better for swelling and inflammation. Apply heat or cold to the affected area for no more than 20 minutes. Let the area rest for 20 minutes before reapplying either option. Stretching is important for keeping muscles flexible and preventing or decrease stiffness, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation.

Prevention

To help prevent muscle stiffness, you may:

    • -Try to practice good posture
    • -Practice good use of furniture at home and at work that provides comfort and support
    • -Take regular breaks
    • -Get up, walk around, and stretch every so often to keep the muscles loose.
    • -Eat a healthy diet.

 

Making sure you stay hydrated and are getting enough of the right nutrients to prevent muscle stiffness. Enough water in the body helps muscles work well. There are several recommendations on how much daily water intake should one person to take but many experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water or other healthy drinks every day. One study found that dehydration during exercise increases the chance of muscle damage and causes more muscle soreness. Calcium and magnesium are also essentials to muscle health.

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Questions & Answers
Q:
What is the best way to treat permanent back and neck pain and stiffness?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Use a telephone headset

Never hold a phone between your shoulder and your ear. Use a headset or other hands-free system to talk on the phone and avoid abusing your neck and spine.

Neck Pain Tips: Exercise your neck muscles

One of the best neck pain tips is using the chin tuck. You can do this often throughout the day. In addition to helping strengthen the muscles that hold the head in alignment over the shoulders, it also helps strengthen the scalene and sub-occipital muscles.

Read more tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

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Temed Holdings
4 answers
Q:
What is the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder Pain?
A:

One of the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder pain is exercises:

Neck Pain Exercises: Neck Extension

  1. To begin this neck pain exercise, sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the palm of your hand on the back of your neck, at the base of your head
  4. Apply slight forward pressure with your hand, while resisting the forward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

Neck pain exercises: Side bend

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place your left hand, palm down, on the left side of your head (around your ear)
  4. Slightly push your head to the right side with your hand, while resisting the sideways motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat 5-10 times
  7. Repeat the neck pain exercises with the other side.

Neck pain exercises: Neck flexion

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the tips of your fingers on your forehead
  4. Slightly push your head backward with your fingers, while resisting the backward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

More exercises here: Neck Pain Exercises

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Temed Holdings
4 answers
Q:
How do I reduce the shoulder and neck pain?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Carry weight evenly

Many people make the mistake of carrying a heavy briefcase or their purse on their shoulder or on one side of their body. Doing this causes strain in the muscles and leads to pain.

Remove non-essentials from your briefcase or purse. Consider using a backpack to evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders. If you choose to carry a purse or backpack, keep your shoulders level while carrying it.

Neck Pain Tips: Maintain a proper posture

The most common posture contributing to neck pain is the “head-and-shoulders-forward” posture. In this position, the neck slopes forward, putting the head in front of the shoulders.

In this position, the head pulls the upper back forward also in a slumped position. This places a strain on the entire spinal column.

More tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

Read more
Temed Holdings
4 answers