Background: The mechanical alterations related to the overload of respiratory muscles observed in adults with persistent asthma might lead to the development of chronic alterations in posture, musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain; however, these changes remain poorly understood.
Objective: This study aimed to assess postural alignment, muscle shortening and chronic pain in adults with persistent asthma.
Methods: This cross-sectional and controlled study enrolled 30 patients with mild (n = 17) and severe (n = 13) persistent asthma. Fifteen non-asthmatic volunteers were also assessed. Asthma was classified by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines. Postural alignment and muscle shortening were evaluated by head and shoulder positions, chest wall mobility, and posterior (trunk and lower limb) muscle flexibility. In addition, the measures used were previously tested for their reproducibility. Pain complaints were also assessed.
Results: In comparison with non-asthmatic subjects, patients with mild or severe persistent asthma held their head and shoulders more forward and had lower chest wall expansion, decreased shoulder internal rotation, and decreased thoracic spine flexibility. Chronic lower thoracic, cervical, and shoulder pain was significantly increased in patients with mild or severe asthma compared with non-asthmatic subjects (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Adults with persistent asthma have musculoskeletal dysfunction and chronic pain that is independent of the severity of their disease but that might be related to their age at the onset of disease symptoms.