Medical Dictionary Search Engines

Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.


Search For


Specialty Search




Other encyclopedia topics: A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9   

Contracture deformity

Alternative names

Deformity - contracture


A contracture is a permanent tightening of muscle, tendons, ligaments, or skin that prevents normal movement of the associated body part and that can cause permanent deformity.


A contracture develops when the normally elastic connective tissues are replaced by inelastic fibrous tissue. This makes the affected area resistant to stretching and prevents normal movement.

Contractures occur primarily in the skin, underlying tissues, muscle, tendons and joint areas. The most common causes are scarring and lack of use (due to immobilization or inactivity):

  • Dupuytren's contracture
  • Claw hand
  • Foot drop (the foot points downward)
  • Wrist drop (the wrist cannot be lifted)
  • Volkmann's contracture
  • Becker's muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Duchenne's muscular dystrophy

Common Causes

  • Injury (including burns )
  • Reduced use (for example, from immobilization)
  • Damage or degeneration of the nerves
  • Inherited disorders (such as muscular dystrophy )

Home Care

Home care is primarily a continuation of the care that the health care provider prescribes. For example, physical therapy exercises must be continued at home.

Call your health care provider if

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

Your health care provider will obtain your medical history and will perform a physical examination .

Medical history questions documenting contracture deformities may include the following:
  • Time pattern: When did it start?
  • Quality
    • How bad is it?
    • How would you describe it?
    • How much movement is there?
  • Location: Where is it exactly?
  • What other symptoms are also present?

Depending on the cause and type of contracture, diagnostic testing (such as an extremity X-ray ) may be necessary.

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

Update Date: 11/14/2002

Thomas N. Joseph, M.D., Department of Orthopedic Surgery, NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

©2009 [Privacy Policy] [Disclaimer]
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT