Sat. May 18th, 2024

Why muscle guarding can prolong pain, inhibit recovery after surgery

Stephen Clark, an Atlanta-area physical therapist, sees many patients who suffer from muscle guarding after a traumatic surgery or injury. Muscle guarding, which emanates from the brain, is a physical response to pain. For some, though, protracted muscle guarding can prolong pain and inhibit recovery.

He mentioned helping a female patient recovering from a broken ankle who experienced muscle guarding. “If I went to touch her ankle, she would tense up, even though I hadn’t touched her yet,” said Clark, director of clinical innovations at Confluent Health. The patient’s brain made a decision that even the idea of Clark touching her ankle equaled danger.

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