It usually occurs in the most unfavorable situations – lumbago. What is meant is a blockage of the spine, which is extremely painful. Blockage (medical: reversible segmental dysfunction) can also occur in the neck, upper back or any other joint. This is not the only reason why it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible, because the longer blockages exist, the more difficult it is to loosen them again. Blockages are to be distinguished from pinched nerves.
What is a blockage?
According to sportingology.com, blockage can occur in any joint. The affected area is then immobile and is in a deformity that causes severe pain. In addition, there is painful muscle tension around the joint. On the one hand, these are the result of the muscles contracting due to the malposition and the relieving posture assumed by the patient.
Blockages are triggered by a regulation disorder of the musculature, which “overreacts” to certain movements or loads and thus triggers the joint misalignment. When the blockage affects the cervical spine, the term ” stiff neck ” is often used in popular parlance.
When lumbago is a blockage in the lower part of the spine. A blockage in the thoracic spine causes symptoms in the patient that are reminiscent of heart problems but actually do not affect that organ.
The causes of a blockage can be varied. Various approaches are therefore being discussed among medical professionals. This includes the so-called joint model. It is assumed that an uncontrolled movement leads to mechanical blocking of the joint.
In the reflex model, the surrounding muscles are the trigger for the blockage. Any pain that occurs leads to tension in the muscles in the affected area and ultimately to cramps, which trigger the blockage in a reflex-like process. This process is uncontrolled for the patient.
The third explanatory approach integrates both of the aforementioned possibilities and assumes that the blocking of the joint and the muscle tension are mutually dependent. The joint, which is initially only blocked by a tension reaction, can turn into a mechanical block without appropriate treatment.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
A blockage or blockage in the musculoskeletal system is usually first noticeable as a restriction in the mobility of the affected body region. At the same time it can happen that the corresponding natural attempt at movement is associated with a stabbing pain or pain that is perceived as electrifying.
The most common blockage is that of the neck and neck muscles. It is also known for a long time as a “draft” because it can occur if the person later affected is exposed to cold drafts for a longer period of time.
External symptoms or signs cannot be seen with the blockage, which often makes it difficult for the layperson to diagnose. However, the muscles in the affected area are stiffened and hardened and subjectively feels shortened and immobile.
Careful and even movement is a very effective remedy for blockages, but it is often perceived as very painful and negative, which is why patients like to adopt a relieving posture. Warmth on the affected area can reduce the pain, and light massages are often requested by patients.
Some blockages are also triggered by irritating a nerve tract or pinching a nerve. Furthermore, blockages in the area of the spine are known. In addition to the typical feelings of tension, numbness also occurs in the adjacent regions. These are also often associated with severe pain.
Diagnosis & course
The diagnosis of a blockage is usually made through a physical examination. On the basis of the symptoms present, the doctor can check which joint is restricted in its function. Often this is already stated by the patient in the conversation.
The doctor will also examine the muscle tension that occurs and check any neurological deficits that have occurred. The use of X-rays is not necessary to diagnose a blockage, as this procedure is not meaningful. In order to rule out bony injuries or tumors, it is nevertheless useful to take x-rays for certain patients.
If chiropractic treatment is sought in later therapy, x-rays must be made in any case. If a blockage is left untreated, the pain and restricted mobility will persist for a longer period of time. Due to the automatically occurring muscle tension, it is unlikely that it will resolve itself again.
A blockage in the joints can cause a number of complications. Initially, as a result of the restricted mobility, malpositions can occur, which are often associated with severe pain and the formation of further muscle blockages. If the blockage persists over a longer period of time, the pain continues to increase and sensory disturbances such as tingling sensations and symptoms of paralysis occur.
Depending on the location of the blockage, specific secondary diseases such as a sacrum-pelvic blockage can develop from it. The blockage itself leads to chronic pain over time, which in the case of chronic development can also affect mental health. Furthermore, a blockage of the joints can lead to accidents in everyday life; then, for example, when an acute blockage occurs when driving a vehicle or operating a machine.
If the joint blockages are treated quickly and comprehensively, the direct complications usually also disappear and the previous mobility is restored. At the same time as the treatment, there may be temporary tension in the affected regions. If an operation is necessary, no further problems are to be expected besides the usual complications of a surgical procedure
When should you go to the doctor?
A blockage in the small joints of the spine or larger joints in the body often resolves as spontaneously as it came. In many cases, the person affected can wait to see a doctor to see whether the blockage is resolved overnight during sleep or through home remedies such as massage, light exercise or heat applications.
However, there are cases when the doctor should be asked for advice. This applies immediately if the blockage does not allow normal everyday activities to be carried out, for example if the restricted movement forces the person concerned into an unnatural posture. Another reason to see a doctor promptly is severe pain that conventional painkillers cannot or only briefly alleviate.
This pain is then interrupted by the doctor, for example with pain injections. These also ensure a relaxation of the tissue, since otherwise – without medical help – the pain could trigger a relieving posture and cramping, which under certain circumstances can further promote the blockage.
In addition, a visit to the doctor is necessary if a blockage in the back area is associated with numbness or sensory disturbances in the arms or legs. Here, a problem with the intervertebral disc must be excluded or treated.
If there is a blockage, your family doctor can often help with pain relief. For more serious causes, he refers his patients to an orthopedist, neurologist or physiotherapist.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment for a blockage is based on its cause and needs to be resolved first. This can be done by using chiropractic or manual therapy as early as possible after the symptoms appear.
In addition, physiotherapy can help strengthen the muscles. It is generally important to train all muscle areas as possible in order to avoid blockages in the future. Pain reliever medications also help patients to relieve the persistent tension and pain associated with it.
It can take several weeks to months before permanent freedom from pain is achieved. The success depends to a large extent on the active cooperation of the patient.
Outlook & forecast
The prognosis for a blockage is very good. Given the initiative and cooperation of the patient, permanent and complete healing can occur within a few weeks. Treatment is carried out in collaboration with a chiropractor or physiotherapist, depending on the cause and severity of the blockage.
These give helpful tips and analyze together with the patient which movement sequences should be optimized in the future. The aim is to achieve a change so that the released tension does not return. An orthopedic surgeon can also help if there are other problems with the skeletal system.
In everyday life, the patient has to improve his posture, pursue sporting activities and strive for a healthier way of life. If he takes the benevolent hints into account and if he adapts himself better to the needs of the body, he will achieve a good and stable sense of wellbeing.
The recurrence of a blockage is possible, but strongly dependent on the patient’s behavior. The sitting posture and the distance between the seat and the table must be checked and optimized. Heavy physical work should be avoided or restructured.
Turning movements should not be sudden or when lifting heavy objects. The muscles must be strengthened, sufficient fluids should be absorbed and the body needs sufficient heat supply for lasting relief and healing.
Targeted strengthening of the muscles can effectively prevent blockages. It is important that especially patients who have already had a blockage continue with the physiotherapeutic exercises at home and thus ensure the success of the training.
Targeted exercises to relieve the affected areas are also advisable for people who do heavy physical work. Office work can lead to tension in the shoulder and neck area in particular. As a preventive measure, you should therefore take regular breaks from working with the computer.
You can do that yourself
If painful conditions occur anywhere in the body, such as above the buttocks, a blockage in the joint is often responsible. The blockage with limited mobility of the joint or with an abnormal position of the joint surfaces to one another can be alleviated by numerous self-help measures.
In addition to treatment by a physiotherapist or osteopath, the application of heat to the body has also proven its worth. Hot water bottles or a hot roller can relax the muscles around the joint. The application of heat stimulates blood circulation and can thus reduce pain.
Self-mobilization with independent movement of the body can also minimize the pain or even switch it off completely. Depending on the affected area on the body, there are helpful exercises that you can do independently at home. In the run-up to the exercises, it is advisable to get helpful tips from specialists so that the person concerned can perform the appropriate exercises in the right way.
To prevent any blockages in the body, building up the abdominal and back muscles is an important step towards health and personal wellbeing. Anyone who already suffers from a blockage should not start too quickly to return to sporting activities. Starting training too quickly can lead to a painful relapse and thus cause the blockage again.