Intrinsic Contracture of the Hand: Diagnosis and Management

Rick Tosti J Am Acad Orthop Surg October 2013 vol. 21 no. 10

Abstract 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.

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