Contracture is a self-protective mechanism of soft tissue. It may be reversible or irreversible. When the shortening of the tissue is within the physiologic limits and is caused by overuse, overloading, misuse, or physical insults, it is reversible. Contracture from severe injuries, in which substantial amounts of tissue are destroyed, are irreversible. This may be the result of physical injury or surgery. During the self-healing process that follows surgical procedures, adhesion and scars are formed, and contractures resulting from these processes may be irreversible. For example, a leg may be permanently shortened after severe injury of the hamstring muscles or tendons.
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