A muscle contracture is a permanent shortening of a muscle or joint. 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, at the same time that tendency toward spasticity is addressed.
Excessive matrix metalloproteinase and myofibroblast accumulation in the wound margins can result in contracture.
- "contracture" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
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