What is it Hypertonicity Disorder?


Healthy Living Blog


Hypertonicity involves the pathology of the sinews. Sinews are tendons which connect muscle to bone and is composed of strong fibrous connective tissue. Like ligaments, they are made of collagen, but ligaments actually connect bone to bone. Hypertonicity disorders may pertain to diseases such as opisthotonos (backward arching of the neck, head, and spine due to muscle spasms), encephalitis, Parkinson’s disease, or meningitis. It is characterized by stiffness and rigidity of both the neck and upper back. Symptoms of hypertonia may also be caused by trauma to the spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis.

According to Nei Jing, all patterns of stiff neck and rigid back may pertain to influences of dampness, wind, or cold. These are all pathogenic factors which may accumulate and obstruct channels in the body which cause a disruption in blood flow. Other causative factors may be extreme heat which consumes body fluid and the body begins to become yin deficient and unable to nourish the sinews. Lastly, deficiency of both blood and yin may also be the culprit. This last factor may be contributed from excessive sweating, bleeding, or constitutional in nature. Hypertonicity is basically the disharmony of both yin and yang energy which results in the malnourishment to the sinews. Other symptoms may include tremors and contractures of extremities.

Muscle tightness and tension can be brought on by liver yin and body fluid deficiencies. Stress can elevate muscle tenseness which is in part liver stagnation. Tightness or degeneration of soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage are all affected by liver blood and kidney yin deficiency.

Other differential diagnosis which are similar but not the same are strokes and epilepsy. Stroke may include facial paralysis, stroke sequelae (residual effects), and hemiplegia. Epilepsy has short episodes of not being conscious but contractions are eased as soon as patient has recovered. Whereas, hypertonicity disorder is mainly characterized by upper back and neck stiffness and rigidity. Generally, herbal formulas are used to heavily subdue the yang and extinguish the wind. Hypertonicity may also be a series of symptoms following other illnesses and progressive states. Prompt measures are needed in early treatment to replenish the yin, nourish the blood, and clear heat. By treating in early stages, reoccurrences can be prevented.

The therapeutic actions of treatment include nourishing the sinews and tendons, relieve pain, chondroprotective and osteogenic functions to strengthen and repair soft connective tissue, and provide both antirheumatic and antiarthritic effects to treat connective tissue disorders.  Acupuncture treatment for pathogenic factors accumulating and obstructing the channels will be of the reducing method form of manipulation and the Du, Urinary Bladder, Large Intestine, and San Jiao meridians are used. For nourishing yin and blood deficiency, the reinforcing acupuncture method is used and meridians on Du, Spleen, Ren, Stomach, and Kidney meridians will be beneficial. The formulas Si Wu Tang and Da Ding Feng Zhu both nourish blood and replenish yin which is often used in these cases.

Though hypertonicity disorder is a very complex disease of exterior pathogenic factors obstructing the channels and internal wind, there is a lot that can be done to nourish the deficiencies and treat the excesses. Prevention and early treatment make a huge difference in the overall progress of the patient. Certain supplements also play a big role in sinew health, like foods rich in magnesium. These include edamame, black beans, cashews, spinach, and almonds. Magnesium is essential for proper muscle contractions and is vital for almost all body functions. Curcumin which is found in turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to help relax the body naturally. To maintain healthy ligaments and tendons, eat foods rich in essential minerals. Foods rich in calcium, manganese, vitamin A, are needed. Fatty fish, leafy greens, eggs, and orange and yellow vegetables will also help supply these nutrients.

There are many exercises to do to improve muscle tone such as passive range of motion, joint compression exercises, weight shifting like gentle rocking or side stepping. Hypertonia symptoms can be divided into three groups including rigidity (resistance to movement), dystonia (involuntary contraction when moving voluntarily), and spasticity (velocity dependent). These symptoms are often seen in cerebral palsy patients which benefit from home exercises such as these.

Leave it to the classics and ancient texts like Nei Jing to find the answers to many modern day disorders and proper treatment. Internal Medicine today is greatly enhanced by these ancient sages who had the wisdom and ability to see disease as an absence of true health and treat the body as a whole. Eastern medicine can help balance the body with both acupuncture and herbal remedies and many other techniques. The power of nutrition is its own medicine and Food therapy was recognized back in ancient days. Even Hippocrates’ most famous quote, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,”  still rings true today. Call today to start your journey to optimize your health! 772-626-6419