Paratonia: causes, symptoms and treatment

The human body has around 639 musclesSome of which are under our voluntary control (skeletal muscles), while another group acts autonomously (smooth muscles).

In certain situations, the skeletal muscles exhibit atypical behaviors which are beyond our control; in the case of paratonia, it usually presents a disproportionate level of tension in one muscle region.

In this article we will see what does paratonia consist of, To what extent can it affect our body, the cases in which it usually presents this situation, the means of diagnosing it and its treatment, as well as some means of prevention.

    What is paratonia?

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

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

    This condition, although it occurs at the physical level, it can also lead to mental compromises related to your symptoms. Below we see some of the consequences, both physical and psychological, that arise from this pathology.

    Effects on the body

    The consequences that this suffering can cause are varied. outraged they largely depend on the affected area, intensity and frequency levels with which the symptoms are presented and also personal characteristics of the subject.

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

    Since we are bio-psycho-social beings, diseases of the body they are intrinsically linked to diseases of the mind. This is evident in the case of paratonia of the muscles.

      when it happens

      The causes that can cause paratonia are various, And among them are the following:

      • muscle overloads
      • muscle injuries
      • Ramps or tendonitis
      • Muscular dystrophy (genetic origin)
      • Inflammation of the skeletal muscle (myositis)
      • Damage to the nerves that affect the muscles
      • some infections
      • For side effects of drugs

      To this list can be added the emotional causes mentioned above; stress and anxiety, as risk factors that trigger symptoms of tension and contraction of muscles in the human body.


      The diagnosis of this type of pathology this is usually done through a routine physical exam, Where abnormal tension levels can be noticed in specific muscles. If necessary, the specialist may ask the patient to perform additional examinations.

      Tests your doctor may order include muscle biopsy, electromyography, blood aldolase 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, as well as relaxation techniques applied by the therapist in a controlled environment.

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

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

      preventive methods

      These methods can be used when you are recovering or have just recovered from a muscle injury or paratonia.

      • Avoid excessively high temperatures.
      • Avoid temperatures that are too low.
      • Avoid stressors in our daily life.
      • Do not use parts that are too tight.
      • Take care of our food.
      • Avoid excessive alcoholic drinks.
      • Maintain correct posture.
      • Have good sleep habits.

      Exercise is included in the protective factors for muscle injury, but it should be subjected to a careful diet, avoiding excessive weight lifting or strenuous routines without having been properly prepared for it.

      It is advisable to be under the supervision of an instructor who will be able to give you specific advice on which exercise routines to perform, depending on your body type and personal needs.

      If for some reason you don’t want to go to the 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 improvement in the quality of life.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Hobbelen, JSM, Tan, France ES; Verhey, FRJ; Koopmans, RTCM, Bie, RA de (2011). Prevalence, incidence and risk factors of paratonia in patients with dementia: a one-year follow-up study. International psychogeriatrics. 23 (7): 1051-1060.
      • Trumpet, C .; Marinelli, L .; Mori, L .; Pelosina, E .; Currà, A .; Molfetta, L .; Abbruzzese, G. (2014). Pathophysiology of spasticity: implications for neurorehabilitation. BioMed Research International. 2014: 1-8.

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