Volkmann's Contracture is a deformity of the arm, wrist and fingers, caused by an injury to the arm such as a fracture or a crush injury.
Symptoms of Volkmanns Contracture
- Pain in the forearm, wrist or hand / fingers.
- Pain doesn't improve with rest or pain medication.
- Neural symptoms such as tingling, numbness and weakness.
- Pale, cold skin.
- Muscle spasm.
- Deformity of the wrist and fingers.
Volkmann's contracture (sometimes called an ischemic contracture) is caused by a lack of blood flow to the forearm. The cause of this is usually an acute injury (such as a fracture or crush injury) to the upper arm or elbow area. This can cause swelling which compresses the blood vessels which supply blood to the forearm and hand. A long-term lack of blood can cause permanent damage to the muscles and nerves.
The muscles in the forearm become shortened and tight, resulting in a contracture. The muscles pull on the joints in the wrist and hands, causing the wrist and fingers to become bent.
This condition is most common in children who fracture the arm, just above the elbow. Although it can also occur due to other injuries, as well as severe burns, reactions to insect bites, injections and anything that causes swelling within the forearm
- If the condition is caused by an acute injury, this should firstly be treated appropriately.
- The arm should be raised if possible to reduce swelling to the forearm.
- The best treatment for Volkmanns contracture is to release the pressure in the forearm as soon as possible via surgery.
- If not treated early and muscle damage has occurred, surgery may be required to lengthen or even transfer muscles in order to regain function.