A contracture is the abnormal shortening of muscle or other tissue. It may be caused by muscle spasm, wasting away of tissue and muscle (atrophy), scar formation from injury, chronic disease, or lack of use.
A contracture often develops in a joint affected by arthritis or in a paralyzed limb. It may make it impossible to move the joint normally. A contracture causes surrounding muscle, tendons, ligaments, and bone to shorten or bend. And it can lead to permanent deformity and disability.
Contractures are treated in many ways, including physiotherapy, casts, and surgery.
Current as of: December 20, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics