A contracture develops when the normally stretchy (elastic) tissues are replaced by nonstretchy (inelastic) fiber-like tissue. this 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, and joint areas.
They affect range of motion and function in a certain body part. There is usually also pain.
- Becker's muscular dystrophy
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- Dupuytren's contracture
- Volkmann's contracture
Deformity - contracture
- Brain and nervous system disorders, such as cerebral palsy or stroke
- Inherited disorders (such as muscular dystrophy)
- Nerve damage
- Reduced use (for example, from lack of mobility)
- Scarring after traumatic injury or burns
Home care involves the care your health care provider prescribes, such as:
- Performing exercises and stretches
- Using braces
Call your health care provider if
Call your health care provider if:
- A contracture seems to be developing.
- You notice a decreased ability to move a joint.
What to expect at your health care provider's office
Depending on the cause and type of contracture, you may need diagnostic testing (such as an x-ray).
Physical therapy, medicines, orthopedic braces, or surgery may be helpful for some types of contractures.
Calandruccio JH. Dupuytren contracture. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 72.
Jobe MT. Compartment syndromes and Volkmann contracture. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 71.
Warner WC. Neuromuscular disorders. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 32.
Sawyer JR. Cerebral palsy. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 30.
Tufaro PA, Bondoc SL. Therapist's movement of the burned hand. In: Skirven TM, Osterman AL, Fedorczyk J, Amadio P, eds. Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 26.
Dudek N, Trudel G. Joint contractures. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr., eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 117.
Last reviewed 8/14/2012 by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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