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Intrinsic Contracture of the Hand: Diagnosis and Management

Tosti, Rick MD; Thoder, Joseph J. MD; Ilyas, Asif M. MD

JAAOS - Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: October 2013 - Volume 21 - Issue 10 - p 581–591
doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-21-10-581
Review Article

Intrinsic contracture of the hand may result from trauma, spasticity, ischemia, rheumatologic disorders, or iatrogenic causes. In severe cases, the hand assumes a posture with hyperflexed metacarpophalangeal joints and hyperextended proximal interphalangeal joints as the contracted interossei and lumbrical muscles deform the natural cascade of the fingers. Considerable disability may result because weakness in grip strength, difficulty with grasping larger objects, and troubles with maintenance of hygiene commonly encumber patients. Generally, the diagnosis is made via history and physical examination, but adjunctive imaging, rheumatologic testing, and electromyography may aid in determining the underlying cause or assessing the severity. Nonsurgical management may be appropriate in mild cases and consists of occupational therapy, orthoses, and botulinum toxin injections. The options for surgical management are diverse and dictated by the cause and severity of contracture.

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (Dr. Tosti and Dr. Thoder), and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, the Rothman Institute, Philadelphia (Dr. Ilyas).

Dr. Ilyas or an immediate family member serves as a paid consultant to Integra LifeSciences. Neither of the following authors nor any immediate family member has received anything of value from or has stock or stock options held in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article: Dr. Tosti and Dr. Thoder.

© 2013 by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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