A muscle contracture is a permanent shortening of a muscle[1] or joint.[2] It is usually in response to prolonged hypertonic spasticity in a concentrated muscle area, such as is seen in the tightest muscles of people with conditions like spastic cerebral palsy. Contractures are essentially muscles or tendons that have remained too tight for too long, thus becoming shorter. They develop when these normally elastic tissues are replaced by inelastic tissues. This results in the shortening and hardening of these tissues, ultimately causing rigidity, joint deformities, and a total loss of movement around the joint. Most of the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other exercise regimens targeted towards people with spasticity focuses on trying to prevent contractures from happening in the first place. However, research on sustained traction of connective tissue in approaches such as adaptive yoga has demonstrated that contracture can be reduced,[3] at the same time that tendency toward spasticity is addressed.

Muscle contractures in terminal neurological condition

Contractures can also be due to ischemia, as in Volkmann's contracture.

Excessive matrix metalloproteinase and myofibroblast accumulation in the wound margins can result in contracture.

See also


  1. "contracture" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. Clavet H, Hébert PC, Fergusson D, Doucette S, Trudel G (March 2008). "Joint contracture following prolonged stay in the intensive care unit". CMAJ. 178 (6): 691–7. doi:10.1503/cmaj.071056. PMC 2263098. PMID 18332384.
  3. Nambi, Gopal S & Amisha Atul Kumar Shah (2013). "Additional effect of iyengar yoga and EMG biofeedback on pain and functional disability in chronic unilateral knee osteoarthritis". International Journal of Yoga. 6 (2): 123–127. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.113413. PMC 3734638. PMID 23930031.

External resources
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