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Understanding Symptoms of Muscle Tightness, Weakness, and Rigidity From a Nursing Perspective

Bhimani, Rozina H. PhD, DNP, APRN-CNP, CNE1; Soomar, Daanish2

doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000151

Purpose This study examined the nature of muscle tightness from nurses' perspectives and explored how the symptoms of muscle tightness are communicated, managed, and differentiated from other conditions, such as muscle rigidity and muscle weakness.

Design An exploratory, descriptive qualitative design was used.

Methods Eight rehabilitation nurses described lexicons, care strategies, and communication for muscle tightness, weakness, and rigidity.

Findings Nurses used conflicting terms to describe muscle tightness, weakness, and rigidity. They identified medications and range of motion as the best strategies to manage muscle conditions. Nurses approach care holistically and do not differentiate care strategies that are based only on a symptoms lens.

Conclusions Nurses were unable to clearly differentiate between muscle tightness and rigidity.

Clinical Relevance Nurses influence patients' choice of vocabulary; therefore, they must use simple but precise terminologies to educate their patients. Miscommunication between nurses and patients can lead to errors, which can have negative consequences.

1 University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, MN, USA

2 College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Correspondence: Rozina Bhimani, PhD, DNP, APRN-CNP, CNE, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, 5-140 Weaver-Densford Hall, 308 Harvard Street S. E., Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA. E-mail:

Cite this article as: Bhimani, R. H., & Soomar, D. (2019). Understanding symptoms of muscle tightness, weakness, and rigidity from a nursing perspective. Rehabilitation Nursing, 44(5), 271–281. doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000151

Online date: January 8, 2019

© 2019 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.
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