Physiotherapy Treatment for Muscular Contracture

Placing a hot compress on the site of the contracture and leaving it on for 15-20 minutes is a good way to relieve contracture pain. Stretching the affected muscle also tends to gradually bring relief from symptoms, but in certain cases, when these forms of home treatment are not enough, physical therapy is recommended.

Muscle contracture occurs when a particular muscle contracts causing decreased movement and local pain. It can happen during exercise, due to burn scars or due to neurological changes, such as paraplegia, for example. Although it can affect all the muscles of the body, the most common areas are the thigh, calf and the area between the nape and shoulders.

Physiotherapeutic treatment options

The physiotherapist must assess the person's need, their level of movement limitation and pain, to choose the most appropriate therapy.

But in general it is recommended to give preference to the use of hot water bags or devices that provide heat such as infrared in the simplest situations, or devices such as short waves, in larger and more painful contractures.

Manual Swedish massage techniques, deep transverse and muscle emptying techniques are also advised to release adhesions and eliminate contracture. One strategy that achieves good results is the use of suction cups that promote suction of the muscle and fascia and by sliding it can help to undo the contracture, although this can cause some discomfort in the most sensitive people. See photos and how is the treatment with suction cups.

Stretching exercises can also be performed daily until there is relief from symptoms and freedom of movement without pain. And the hot water bag can and should also be used at home, for 20 to 30 minutes daily until complete remission of symptoms. Check out some examples of stretching exercises that can be indicated in this video:

When it is recommended

Physiotherapy is recommended whenever the person has one or more muscle contractures, with pain and limited movement. Although, in most cases, simple contractures, which happen on a daily basis, do not need specialized treatment, when the person presents other situations such as scoliosis, fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome or some alteration that affects the nervous system, the physical therapy treatment is always indicated.

How long it takes

The sessions should not last more than 1 hour, and the best results are achieved when doing at least 3 sessions per week. The total number of sessions is very individual and depends on factors such as professional activity, lifestyle, commitment to daily tasks that should be performed at home, such as using a hot compress, stretching and maintaining good posture.

How to avoid a new contracture

Contracture can be avoided by maintaining good body posture and muscle strengthening. Therefore, it is an important part of the treatment to strengthen the muscles involved with active or resistance exercises to avoid further injuries.