A contracture is a joint abnormally bent by shortened soft tissues in and around the joint. The shortened tissues pull the bone out of normal position. A contracture may develop in a joint affected by juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Because of the effectiveness of today's treatments, your child probably will not develop contractures. But if a contracture does develop, treatment may include splints and physiotherapy.
Surgery is rarely used to treat JIA. But it is sometimes used to release contractures of at least moderate severity that have not responded to other treatments. Surgery is sometimes needed to restore motion, especially for hip and knee contractures that interfere with walking.
One procedure used is soft tissue releases of contractures, which involves cutting the muscles attached to an abnormally bent joint. As the muscles and other shortened tissues are released, the affected joint can return to a more normal position.
Goals of soft tissue releases of contractures include:
Casts are usually used for several weeks after contracture releases of the knee, followed by physiotherapy and nighttime splinting. This procedure often relieves the contracture and pain associated with it and makes it easier for the child to move the joint.
Physiotherapy after a soft tissue release is essential to benefiting from the procedure. For this reason, children must be at least 6 years old to be considered for this surgery.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - PediatricsBrian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Current as ofOctober 31, 2016
Current as of: October 31, 2016
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
& Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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