Paratonia: causes, symptoms and treatment

The human body contains 639 muscles , of which some are under voluntary control (skeletal muscles), while another group acts autonomously (smooth muscles).

In some situations, skeletal muscles exhibit atypical behaviors beyond our control; in the case of paratonia, a disproportionate level of tension usually occurs in some muscular region.

In this article we will see what is the paratonia , to what level can affect our body, the cases where this situation usually occurs, the ways of diagnosing it and its treatment, as well as some ways of prevention.

What is paratonia?

What happens during the paratonia is that we suffer an inability to relax the skeletal muscles voluntarily; On the contrary, the muscle presents an abnormal tension and contracts without being able to avoid it .

This symptomatology can be caused by various factors associated with somatomotor disorders, trauma in some parts of the body, or high stress levels, which can cause muscle contraction in the subject.

This condition, although it occurs at a physical level, can also cause mental compromises related to its symptoms . Next we will see some of the physical and psychological consequences that derive from this pathology.

Effects on the body

The consequences that this condition can cause are varied. In addition, depending on the area affected, the levels of intensity and frequency with which the symptoms occur and also the personal characteristics of the subject depend to a large extent .

In first instance we have the affections at physical level, which go from the weakness and the pain, or the paralysis in the affected area of ​​the body; then there are also the psychological consequences of this circumstance. The latter appear as underlying diseases caused by muscle disease (comorbidity), which can be from anxiety, psychosomatic diseases, hypochondria, etc …

Considering that we are bio-psycho-social beings, the diseases of the body are intrinsically related to diseases of the mind . This is evident in the case of paratonia in the muscles.

When it happens
The causes that can cause paratonia are diverse , and among them are the following:

Muscle overload
Muscle injuries
Cramps or tendinitis .
Muscular dystrophy (genetic origin).
Inflammation of skeletal muscle (myositis).
Damage to the nerves that affects the muscles.
Some infections .
By side effect of medications.
To this list can be added the emotional causes mentioned above; stress and anxiety, as risk factors that detonate the symptoms of tension and contraction in the muscles of the human body.

The diagnosis of this type of pathologies is usually made through a routine physical examination , where abnormal levels of tension can be noticed in some specific muscles. If necessary, the specialist may instruct the patient to perform some extra tests.

Among the tests that the doctor may require are muscle biopsy, electromyography, aldolase blood test, creatine-phosphokinase test, and lactic dehydrogenase test.


Treatments for muscular pathologies, including paratonia, are mainly based on physiotherapy sessions, which can be accompanied by psychotherapy sessions, together with relaxation techniques that are applied by the therapist in a controlled environment.

When the symptomatology of the case is too intense and persistent, in addition to not responding to other methods of treatment, then botulinum toxin injections are used for spasms and muscle contractions . Botulinum toxin is a protein that helps relax stressed muscles.

When the injection is applied directly to the affected muscle, the chemical signals that generate contraction in the area disappear, because the botulinum toxin blocks these signals.

Preventive methods
These methods can be used when you are in the process of recovering or have just emerged from a muscle injury or paratonia.

Avoid exaggeratedly high temperatures.
Avoid exaggeratedly low temperatures.
Avoid stressors in our daily life.
Do not wear clothes too tight.
Take care of our food
Avoid excess alcoholic beverages.
Maintain proper posture .
Have good sleep habits.
Exercise is included within the protective factors of muscle injuries, but it must be under a careful regimen, avoiding excessive weight lifting, or strenuous routines without having been adequately prepared for them.

It is advisable to be under the supervision of an instructor who can give you specific guidelines on what exercise routines to perform, according to your body type and personal needs.

If for some reason you do not find gym, you can exercise at home, as long as you have the precautions mentioned above the results will be good and you will notice an better change in your quality of life.

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