Why do Joints and Muscles Stiffen, Tighten or Lock Up?
The normal daily function keeps your body working smoothly and well nutritioned but if you suffer an injury or develop disease or postural troubles, joint stiffness and muscle tightness can be either an underlying predisposing cause or a secondary result of the injury or dysfunction. Either way, restoring normal movement is essential in regaining full function and preventing future trouble. In some cases, pain and inflammation accompany joint stiffness. This may make walking, standing, or putting weight on your joints painful. In more severe situations, stiff joints may impact a person’s mobility.
What can cause joint stiffness?
Some factors that may cause joint stiffness include:
- Obesity or being overweight.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – Lupus.
Massage is a treatment which aims to relax, revive and heal the body and is the application of touch or force to soft tissue such as muscles, tendons or ligaments without causing movement or change of joint position to relieve pain and tension. Clinical orthopaedic massage is done with the intent toward healing a specific musculoskeletal condition.
Mobilisations are joint based low-velocity technique that can be performed in various parts of the available range based on the desired effect. Mobilisation techniques are great for moving stiff joints to improve range and reduce pain via mechanical effects on the nerves. Joint mobilisations are graded I through to IV depending upon the range of the joint movement that the physiotherapist is working and the amount of pressure applied.
- Grade I is a small movement at the beginning of the joint motion, this treatment stage is performed to reduce painful symptoms where the condition is highly irritable.
- Grade II is a larger movement but still performed within the early range of motion.
- Grade III treatments the joint will be moved right to the end of the available motion and use a larger range of movement.
- Grade IV This uses small oscillations at the very end of the available range of motion.
Manipulation - The Grade V!
Manipulation involves twisting the joints to their extremities of range, following up with a sudden thrust. Using a manipulation treatment is often accompanied by a pop or a click which is the end result of a release of pressure in the joint, its very similar to someone cracking their knuckles. Manipulation is defined as a small- amplitude, high-velocity thrust technique — a rapid movement over which the patient has no control. For this reason, it is not appropriate for every condition and you Physiotherapist will advise you on the safety and likely effectiveness of this treatment for your condition.
Your Physiotherapist will be able to discuss the benefits of which grade and position would be most effective for you
Soft Tissue Massage
There are various techniques to treat soft tissue dysfunction and injury, ranging from gentle pain-relieving, relaxing massages to more vigorous, stimulating sport massage. This can be combined with joint techniques to offer a great all-round flexibility and pain relief gains and step closer to regaining normal pain-free function