Contracture Management

Contracture - Wikipedia

Contractures refer to very advanced stages of soft tissue stiffness, which can affect all forms of soft tissues such as

  1. skin
  2. joint
  3. tendon
  4. ligament
  5. muscle
  6. fascia
  7. etc

Contractures tend to be very stiff and hard, and these are what that we physiotherapists truly dislike, because it means very, very limited

  • active range of movement
  • strength
  • function

These contractures can happen when the hands, feet, legs or arms start to slowly flex, curl and pull towards the center of the body and gradually stiffness sets in.

It can be caused by

  • pain
  • injury
  • neurological injuries such as stroke, spinal cord injuries or Parkinson disease
  • etc

These connective tissue shortening and stiffness typically happens as a response to

  • prolonged immobilization
  • prolonged rest
  • prolonged inflammation

Physiotherapy treatment can help to manage stiffness and contractures in order to

  1. limit the severity of contractures
  2. improve the contractures as much as possible

Some of physiotherapy intervention approach for contractures include:

  1. Structured range of movement program – including passive and active movements to increase circulation, provide joint lubrication and to stretch soft tissues.
  2. Positioning – this will be continually assessed in lying, sitting and standing making it as functional as possible to prevent muscle shortening and decrease pain.
  3. Heat to decrease muscle pain and assist tissue lengthening before stretching.
  4. Stretching – this may involve the use of splints or casts for prolonged stretch of the soft tissue surrounding a joint.
  5. Massage helps maintain tissue mobility and nutrition.
  6. Manual techniques – joint mobilization may be used to increase joint flexibility and decrease pain.
  7. Advice and support on orthotic devices and adaptive equipment.
  8. Training for family or carers on positioning and posture

Physiotherapy treatment will help you achieve your optimal functional capabilities through correct positioning, advice on comfortable postures and stretching.

This will also ensure that you are safe around your home and avoid falls and injuries.

Your structured treatment program will be suited to your needs and involve short and long term goals to make sure you reach your maximum potential.

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