Joint Contracture

What Is a Joint Contracture?

A contracture develops when a non-stretchy, fiber-like tissue replaces the normally stretchy, elastic connective tissue in a joint, such as the hip or knee. Contractures can happen in muscles and tendons as well. A contracture makes it hard to move and often causes pain.

What Causes It?

  • Conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or stroke
  • Nerve damage
  • Lack of mobility in the joint or muscle
  • Scarring after an injury or a burn

Contractures can be diagnosed with a physical exam and an X-ray may be needed.


Treatments vary based on a child’s age, type of contracture and current health. Treatments can include:

  • Braces
  • Physical therapy
  • Splints
  • Stretching
  • Surgery, depending on severity and condition
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