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Limited Range of Motion

Common Causes of Limited Range of Motion

Limited range of motion is a condition that exists when a joint is unable to bend or otherwise move to its usual extent, when rotation, flexion, or extension motions are impeded. Limited range of motion can occur as a result of many conditions, including injury or other trauma, disease, and disuse, as well as certain congenital conditions. Some range of motion issues relate to mechanical problems with the joint itself, but the most common causes include muscle stiffness, tissue swelling, and pain.

Diseases which may involve or lead to limited range of motion include arthritis, cerebral palsy, syphilis, and torticollis, as well as certain metabolic diseases that interfere with the body’s ability to break down sugar molecule chains. Diseases in this last group include Hurler Syndrome, Scheie Syndrome, Hunt Syndrome, and Morquio Syndrome.

Generally, unless the mechanism of injury is obvious, such as a fracture due to fall or other trauma, your physician will perform a series of diagnostic tests, often including X-rays, magnetic image resonance (MRI) scans, or computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, to determine the cause of limited range of motion in any joint. In some cases, blood tests may also be ordered.

Once the cause or underlying condition has been determined, your physician may prescribe range of motion exercises to be completed at home for a period of time, or physical therapy, as well as treatment with medication and joint support.


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