Coordinated Health


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.

Common Causes

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

  • Dislocation of a joint
  • Fracture of an elbow or other joint
  • Septic or infected joint (hip is most common in children)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease  (in boys 4 to 10 years old)
  • Nursemaid’s elbow, an injury to the elbow joint (in young children)

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

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Broken a joint bone in the past
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

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

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Congenital torticollis
  • Muscular dystrophy 
  • Stroke or brain injury 

Home Care

Your doctor or nurse may suggest exercises to increase muscle strength and flexibility.

Call your health care provider if

Make an appointment with your doctor or nurse if you have difficulty moving or extending a joint.

What to expect at your health care provider’s office

The doctor or nurse will examine you and ask you 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.