Pattern of contracture and recovery following ischaemia of the upper limb

J Hand Surg Br. 1985 Jun;10(2):155-61. doi: 10.1016/0266-7681(85)90005-1.


196 cases of Volkmann's Ischaemic Contracture of the upper limb with well-established ischaemia are presented. In all cases tight external circumferential splintage was the primary factor. 59.2% of these patients had been initially treated by "bone setters". 54.6% had fractures of the forearm; supracondylar fracture of the humerus was seen in 10.7% and 17.9% had no evidence of bone or joint injury. Different patterns of ischaemic contractures are recognised and the severity of the contracture is found to be related to the extent of paralysis. Sensory recovery occurs in a proximodistal direction even following total ischaemia and degeneration of the nerve. Motor recovery, however, does not seem to take place. Sensory recovery in the forearm proceeds rapidly in the first six months; thereafter it is less significant. However, the sensory recovery in the hand is significant only after more than twelve months. Since sensory recovery occurs even after total ischaemic degeneration of the nerve it is postulated that such nerves recover and regenerate in course of time.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm / blood supply*
  • Arm / innervation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Compartment Syndromes / etiology
  • Compartment Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forearm Injuries / therapy
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy
  • Hand / blood supply
  • Hand / innervation
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Paralysis / etiology
  • Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Radial Nerve / physiopathology
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Splints / adverse effects
  • Time Factors
  • Ulnar Nerve / physiopathology