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Flexion Contracture


A person is said to have flexion contracture if he cannot bend his knee properly or his fingers can form a fist but cannot straighten, especially in the middle. It is a deformity when the patient cannot fully straighten their legs or fingers either actively or passively. A flexion contracture can happen if a piece of bone or other tissues get in the way and blocks the movement, when knee replacement components are in the wrong position, if a scar tissue restricts the straightening or when there is extreme tightness in the muscles that cross the back of the knee. It may also be congenital or a result of some infection.

A flexion contracture patient may walk with a limp and may find normal activities more demanding in terms of energy needed and utilized. Severe flexion contracture of the knee is a major impediment in weight bearing. Sometimes this may be congenital and the baby is born with it. Managing and correcting this deformity is a problem but gentle and gradual correction can be done with external circular movement.

Surgical correction can be done. The surgeon has to be consulted beforehand and all the details told to him about the problem. Then he can suggest and decide the mode of corrective surgery. The important and main criteria in case of flexion contracture of the lower limbs is whether the patient will be able to walk independently with or without a crutch or a caliper after the operation and whether he will be socially benefited by the operation. Even if there is a remote chance of the child being able to walk post-operatively, then it is a chance worth taking even if there are difficulties in doing so.

If the child has a hip contracture problem, surgery should be done as soon as possible after due examinations by the surgeon and discussion with the patient and his family. If the flexion contracture is the result of an infection like polio, it is important that the patient as a whole is considered and not only his afflictions. Surgery consists of straightening the contracture to enable the person to live normally or as normal as possible. The normal precautions have to be taken, the normal dangers of the operation are there and once the operation is over, the normal post operative care has to be taken by the patient so that the operation is successful and the patient is fine.

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