MedClinic > Blog > Traumatology > Joint stiffness


Joint stiffness is a pathology in which the motor function of joints is impaired. This disease occurs due to a trauma or the development of degenerative-dystrophic pathologies.

Joint stiffness is characterized by their reducibility when a person cannot perform one group of movements – to unbend joints or to bend them. Accordingly, there are two types of this disease – flexor stiffness and extensor stiffness of joints. This pathology is acquired, although cases of congenital stiffness are known to medicine, but they are extremely rare.

Types of this disease and causes

The following types are distinguished:

  • Artherogenic stiffness of joint – occurs due to trauma to the soft tissues or bones surrounding joint. For example, stiffness of the finger joints can occur after a fracture of the arm. The disease manifests itself after removal of the cast.
  • Dermatogenic type of this disease – occurs due to a deep damage to skin, thermal or chemical burn. So, for example, stiffness of the shoulder joint occurs due to the retraction of arm, shoulder, to the body.
  • Desmogenic joint stiffness – the cause of this disease are structural changes that occur in the subcutaneous tissue, occurring after an inflammatory process. For example, stiffness of the cervical spine – torticollis, often arises as a result of suffered phlegm type tonsillitis.
  • Myogenic type of stiffness – the cause of this disease is a disruption of blood circulation in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding joint if the limb has long been tightened with bandages or plaits. Most often, this results in stiffness of hip joints.
  • Neurogenic type of stiffness – occurs due to frequent paralysis.

Clinical picture

Symptomatology of the stiffness of a joint depends on the causes of the pathological process and in which section of the spinal column the disease arose. As a rule, stiffness develops gradually.

Initially, the patient experiences temporary, minor difficulties with flexion or extension movement of joint, and may experience pain, pulling sensations. If timely treatment is not started upon detection of this symptom, joint stiffness will be aggravated and may lead to complete immobilization over time.

Treatment methods

Methods of treating joint stiffness are selected by the doctor individually, depending on the stage of development of the pathological process, presence of complications, severity of the clinical picture, and reasons that led to the development of joint stiffness. First of all, it is necessary to eliminate the root cause, without this measure, any therapy will give only a short-term result, and upon its completion, the disease will reappear.

The main methods for treating joint stiffness are physiotherapy, physical therapy exercises, and massage courses. Thermal procedures are appointed to normalize muscle tone, replenish nutrients in the joint and for normal oxygen access to soft tissues. Therapeutic exercises are appointed by the doctor individually for each patient.

In the absence of positive dynamics after a few months of physiotherapy, the doctor may appoint surgery. Methods are selected individually, preference is given to minimally invasive techniques that give high results and are characterized by minimal risks of complications.