Contracture deformity

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Definition

A contracture develops when the normally stretchy (elastic) tissues are replaced by nonstretchy (inelastic) fiber-like tissue. This tissue makes it hard to stretch the area and prevents normal movement.

Contractures mostly occur in the skin, the tissues underneath, and the muscles, tendons, ligaments surrounding a joint. They affect range of motion and function in a certain body part. Often, there is also pain.

Alternative Names

Deformity - contracture

Causes

Contracture can be caused by any of the following:

Home Care

Follow your health care provider's instructions for treating contracture at home. Treatments may include: 

  • Doing exercises and stretches
  • Using braces and splints

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

  • A contracture seems to be developing.
  • You notice a decreased ability to move a joint.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Depending on the cause and type of contracture, you may need tests such as an x-ray.

Physical therapy, medicines, orthopedic braces, or surgery may be helpful for some types of contractures.

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Contracture deformity

References

Campbell M, Dudek N, Trudel G. Joint contractures. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 126.

Skalsky AJ, McDonald CM. Prevention and management of limb contractures in neuromuscular diseases. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2012;23(3):675-687. PMID: 22938881 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22938881.

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