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Definition Return to top
Limited range of motion is a reduction in the normal distance and direction through which a joint can move.
Considerations Return to top
Range of motion is the distance and direction of movement of a joint. Limited range of motion is a term meaning that a specific joint or body part cannot move through its normal range of motion.
Motion may be limited by a mechanical problem within the joint, by swelling of tissue around the joint, by stiffness of the muscles, or by pain.
Diseases that prevent a joint from fully extending may, over time, produce contracture deformities, causing permanent inability to extend the joint beyond a certain fixed position.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Your health care provider may recommend range of motion exercises, designed to increase muscle strength and flexibility. Continue these exercises at home.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Visit your health care provider if a joint does not move fully and easily in its normal way. If a joint develops (new) changes in its ability to move, the affected part should be examined to determine the cause.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The health care provider will perform a physical examination and will ask you about your medical history. Questions may include:
Note: Limited range of motion may be discovered by the health care provider during an examination for other conditions, and the affected person may or may not have been aware of its presence.
The muscular system, nervous system, and skeleton may be examined in detail. Depending on the cause,joint x-rays andspine x-rays may be needed. Other tests may also be done.
Physical therapy may be recommended.
References Return to top
Childs JD, Irrgang JJ. Rehabilitation. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2003:chap 8.
Drezner JA, Harmon KG, O'Kane JW. Sports medicine. In: Rakel P, Bope ET, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2007. 60th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 41.
Moeller JL, Hutchinson MR. Orthopedics. In: Rakel P, Bope ET, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2007. 60th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 42.
Gravel J, Comeau D, Gordon A. Rheumatology and musculoskeletal problems. In: Rakel P, Bope ET, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2007. 60th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 43.Update Date: 8/12/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.