To investigate the prevalence of joint contracture (limited passive range of joint motion) and muscle weakness in a population with multiple sclerosis (MS). A secondary aim was to establish normative data of functional tests of mobility and balance of people with MS who are still ambulant.
People with MS living in metropolitan Sydney, Australia.
330 people with MS living in metropolitan Sydney, Australia were randomly sampled on 23 July 2009 from the MS Australia register and invited to participate.
Passive range of motion of large joints of the limbs and muscle strength. Tests of walking and balance were also conducted.
156 people (109 females, 47 males; mean age 54.2 years; mean time since diagnosis 14.9 years) agreed to participate and were assessed. Fifty-six per cent (56%) of participants had contracture in at least one major joint of upper or lower limb. The most common site of contracture was the ankle (43.9%). Seventy per cent (70%) of participants had muscle weakness in one or more muscle groups. As muscle weakness, joint contractures were present at early stage of MS and the prevalence was associated with the progression of the disease.
These data show that in addition to muscle weakness joint contractures are highly prevalent among people with MS, especially in the ankle joint. This implicates that prevention of contracture is crucial in providing rehabilitation to people with MS.