by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Contractures are a tightening of muscles, tendons, ligaments, or skin. It makes it hard or impossible to move nearby joints.
Causes may be:
Problems that affect nerves and muscles almost always lead to contractures. Examples are:
Spasticity is a change in muscle tone. It is caused by injuries to the brain or spine, such as stroke. It can also lead to contracture.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. Your joints will be examined for range of motion.
Images may be taken of the body. This can be done with x-rays.
The goal of treatment is to ease pain and increase function. Choices are:
Some people may need surgery when other methods do not help. Surgery can release tight tendons, ligaments, and joints.
Movement and physical therapy may prevent this problem after an injury or surgery. It may also be prevented by managing health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Contractures. PM&R Knowledge Now—American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation website. Available at: https://now.aapmr.org/contractures. Accessed October 7, 2020.
Baagøe SK, Kofoed-Hansen M, et al. Development of muscle contractures and spasticity during subacute rehabilitation after severe acquired brain injury: a prospective cohort study. Brain Injury. 2019; 33(11):1460-1466.
Giugale JM, Fowler JR. Trigger Finger: Adult and Pediatric Treatment Strategies. Orthop Clin North Am. 2015 Oct;46(4):561-569.
Kiefer M, Bonarrigo K, et al. Progression of Ankle Plantarflexion Contractures and Functional Decline in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Implications for Physical Therapy Management, Ped Phys Ther. 2019; 31(1):61-66.
Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed October 7, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Last Updated: 10/7/2020
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.