Extension Contracture

Extension contracture: Causes, symptoms, and Treatment

Extension contracture refers to a condition where the joint becomes stiff, and the range of motion is limited due to the tightening of the muscles and tendons around the joint. This condition commonly develops in the joint where there is prolonged immobilization or a lack of movement, and it can also occur due to certain medical conditions or injuries. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options of extension contracture.

Causes of Extension Contracture

Several factors contribute to the development of extension contracture, including:

1. Inactivity or Immobilization: When a joint is immobilized for an extended period, it results in the shrinkage or shortening of the muscle and tendons surrounding the joint. This, in turn, causes the joint to become stiff and reduces its range of motion.

2. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and stroke can lead to the development of extension contracture.

3. Trauma or Injury: Trauma or injury to a joint can also cause extension contracture. This occurs when the joint is kept in a fixed position for an extended period due to a cast or splint.

Symptoms of Extension Contracture

The symptoms of extension contracture depend on the location of the joint and the severity of the condition. However, some of the common symptoms include:

1. Limited Range of Motion: One of the most prominent symptoms of extension contracture is a limited range of motion. The joint becomes stiff, making it difficult for you to move it as freely as you would like.

2. Pain: Pain is another symptom of extension contracture. The affected joint may be uncomfortable or painful when moved.

3. Muscle Tightness: People with extension contracture often experience muscle tightness around the affected joint. This can make it difficult to stretch and move the joint.

Treatment for Extension Contracture

The treatment of extension contracture depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Some of the common treatment options include:

1. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment for extension contracture. A physical therapist will create a customized exercise program to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the affected joint.

2. Surgery: If the condition is severe, surgery may be necessary to release the tightened muscles and tendons around the joint. Surgery is often recommended for people with extension contracture due to medical conditions or trauma.

3. Medication: Certain medications like muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the symptoms of extension contracture.


Extension contracture is a condition that can lead to limited range of motion, pain, and muscle tightness around the affected joint. The treatment options depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Physical therapy, surgery, and medication are some of the common treatment options for extension contracture. If you experience any symptoms of extension contracture, speak to your doctor or a physical therapist to explore the appropriate treatment options.

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