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attributes, definition, muscle tightness



  1. Bhimani, Rozina
  2. Gaugler, Joseph E.
  3. Felts, Jill


Background: Muscle tightness is a complex ailment that affects quality of life in people who experience it. Muscle tightness is not clearly defined by the National Library of Medicine, which creates confusion in clinical practice.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify the attributes of muscle tightness from expert clinicians' perception and develop a consensus definition from multidisciplinary perspectives.


Methods: This nonintervention study employed semistructured interviews using qualitative design. Twelve multidisciplinary expert clinicians participated in the study.


Results: The results indicate that limited range of motion is a key feature of muscle tightness; however, there are six other attributes: loss of function, changes in muscle texture, change in sensation, asymmetry, pain, and contracted muscle state. These attributes are largely subjective and are interrelated.


Discussion: The new definition captures the multiple domains of muscle tightness. Lack of a standardized tool is a challenge, particularly when subjective assessments require patients' input. Development of such a tool to measure muscle tightness is advocated.