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This article refers to orthopedic contractures, i.e., permanent shortening of muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments. For short-term contraction of muscles, including the normal action and function of muscles, see Muscle contraction. For non-orthopedic types of contractures, see the "See Also" section below.

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.

Diseases of infancy and childhood (1914) (14771754012).jpg
Classification and external resources
Specialty emergency medicine
ICD-10 M24.5, M62.4, M67.1, M72.0, T79.6
ICD-9-CM 718.4, 727.81, 728.6, 958.6
MedlinePlus 003185
MeSH D003286

Contractures are essentially muscles or tendons that have remained too tight for too long, thus becoming shorter. Once they occur, it is often argued that they cannot be stretched or exercised away (they must be released with orthopedic surgery). 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.

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 alsoEdit


  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.