Contracture of Tendons
A contracture is a condition in which a tendon or tendon sheath stiffens and becomes permanently tight, limiting flexibility and joint movement.
Tendons are bands of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. They help bend or straighten the elbow, rotate the forearm, bend the wrist, and move fingers and toes. Tendon sheaths enclose and protect many tendons, such as those in the wrist and ankle, and help keep friction in the joint as low as possible.
Contracture of the tendon or tendon sheath are most common in the wrist, hands and feet. The precise cause is unknown, but contracture may occur due to lack of use (inactivity), scarring from an injury or burn, or genetics. Contracture may cause pain and physical deformity, such as fingers that have tightened into a curl.
People with medical conditions that prevent them from moving around are at high risk for contracture deformity because the tendons that are not being used regularly are prime candidates for tightening. Women who wear high heels often are at high risk for Achilles tendon contracture, which affects the Achilles tendon at the back of the leg.
Many cases of contracture of the tendon or tendon sheath are mild, cause few problems, and never require any treatment. Stretching, bracing and physical therapy may help keep the condition from getting worse.
In severe cases of contracture that cause pain or interfere with movement, the specialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group can diagnose the condition and help determine an appropriate course of treatment, including surgery that may correct the problem.