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Limited range of motion

Limited range of motion is a term meaning that a joint or body part cannot move through its normal range of motion.


Motion may be limited because of a problem within the joint, swelling of tissue around the joint, stiffness of the muscles, or pain.


A sudden loss of range of motion may be due to:

Loss of motion may occur if you damage the bones within a joint. This may happen if you have:

Brain, nerve, or muscle disorders can damage the nerves, tendons, and muscles, and can cause loss of motion. Some of these disorders include:

Home Care

Your health care provider may suggest exercises to increase muscle strength and flexibility.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Make an appointment with your health care provider if you have difficulty moving or extending a joint.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will examine you and ask about your medical history and symptoms.

You may need joint x-rays and spine x-rays. Laboratory tests may be done.

Physical therapy may be recommended.


Campbell M, Dudek N, Trudel G. Joint contractures. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2014:chap 126.

Comeau D, Heaton K, Gordon A. Rheumatology and musculoskeletal problems. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 32.

Update Date 9/8/2014

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