Post-fracture stiffness is a condition that can occur following a bone fracture. It is characterized by a loss of range of motion in the affected joint or limb, which can make it difficult or painful to move. This stiffness can occur in any joint that has been affected by the fracture, but is most common in the joints of the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles.
Post-fracture stiffness can have several causes, including:
Immobilization: When a bone is broken, it is often immobilized to allow it to heal properly. However, this immobilization can cause the surrounding soft tissues to become tight and stiff.
Inflammation: Inflammation can occur around the site of a fracture as the body's natural response to injury. This inflammation can cause swelling and stiffness in the affected joint or limb.
Scar tissue: During the healing process, scar tissue can form around the site of the fracture. This scar tissue can restrict the movement of the affected joint or limb, leading to stiffness.
Muscle weakness: Prolonged immobilization can cause muscle weakness, which can contribute to post-fracture stiffness. Weak muscles are less able to move the affected joint through its full range of motion.
Treatment for post-fracture stiffness typically involves physical therapy, which may include exercises to improve range of motion, stretching, and strengthening of the affected muscles and soft tissues. In some cases, a splint or brace may be used to help protect the joint and maintain proper alignment during the healing process.
It is important to address post-fracture stiffness promptly, as it can lead to long-term problems if left untreated. Without proper treatment, the stiffness can become permanent, making it difficult to perform daily activities and increasing the risk of future injuries.