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Definition - What does Proximal mean?

Proximal is a clinical term that refers to the proximity, or closeness, of an extremity (i.e., arms and legs) to the point of attachment or the center of the body axis. It serves as the locus for joint stability, combining the interdependent function of mediating distal (away from the joint) mobility to support leverage within the planes of range of motion (ROM). In rehabilitation settings, physical therapists assess the proximal structures relative to the centerline (i.e. torso) where biomechanical stress radiates proportionately to the joints, muscles, and soft connective tissue such as cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

SureHire explains Proximal

Although individuals are likely to experience pain at a proximal joint, healthcare practitioners initially examine the stability of the core in situations where persistent muscle weakness is symptomatic of an underlying musculoskeletal condition or injury. The intramuscular mobility, stability, and strength of the torso ultimately translates to the level of discomfort and pain at the affected site(s) of the body, impairing otherwise normal movement and agility in time. Moreover, physiological variables and epidemiological implications including physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity, and smoking habits are predisposing factors for people who are potential candidates for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Depending on the severity, treatment recommendations can consist of an exercise regimen, psychotherapy sessions, and pharmacological agents in helping to mitigate chronic pain and offset limitations of mobility against the prognosis of musculoskeletal disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the legitimate health ramifications associated with MSD cases, impacting different age demographics in which rehabilitation can help isolate muscle weakness and instability at the torso to neutralize pain surrounding proximal structures. However, many people with musculoskeletal disorders may require surgery or auxiliary therapy, posing economic constraints to employers who incur the loss of productivity plus consequent medical expenditures.

Because proximal discomfort and pain represent the mainstay of the structural integrity of the core, it is imperative to seek medical attention to help stem the development or alleviate the progression of the MSD disorder that can have debilitating consequences (i.e., joint deformity). According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), MSD disorders can be attributable to three subcategories including cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), repetitive motion injuries (RMIs), and repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). However, ergonomic measures that entail adaptable workstations that conform to the biomechanical needs of its user can minimize MSD-related cases.

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