Joint contracture is a painful deformity that prevents the movement of a joint through its normal range. The joints most frequently affected by contracture are the elbow, ankle, knee, hip and shoulder.
The most common cause of joint contracture is immobilization or lack of use. The soft tissues surrounding a disused joint become shorter and less elastic, causing it to not extend normally. For example, the condition often affects elderly people with limited mobility and people who are confined to hospitals or nursing homes.
Contraction of the joint may also be caused by inherited disorders, neurologic conditions (such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy), inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis), or scarring from an injury or burn.
Many contractures can be reversed if detected before the joint is immobilized completely. The specialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group have extensive experience in contractures and can help identify the underlying cause and determine the best course of treatment.