A contracture is a tightening or shortening that causes a deformity. It usually affects the skin and the tissues underneath or the tendons, ligaments, and muscles around a joint. Specific symptoms and the location of the contracture depend on the cause, of which there are many. Some are mild, but they can also be quite severe.
Contractures are divided into three categories according to their location and the changes that occur. Atherogenic contractures affect connective tissue, and many include adhesions. Periarticular contractures involve joint and connective tissue stiffness. The third classification, myogenic contracture, is divided into two types: myostatic and pseudomyostatic. The former involves a structural change, usually muscle-shortening, to accommodate a change in the joint, generally from the restriction of movement from a cast, brace, or prolonged bedrest. Pseudomyostatic contracture is similar but is not accompanied by any true structural changes.
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