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A to Z: Arthrogryposis

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May also be called: Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenital (AMC); Multiple Congenital Contractures

Arthrogryposis (ar-thro-grih-POH-sis) is a congenital (present at birth) condition of the joints and muscles that impairs a person’s ability to use joints such as shoulders, wrists, fingers, and lower extremities.

More to Know

Arthrogryposis refers to a group of disorders that result in stiffness or loss of motion in multiple joints. There are many variations of the disease, some mild and some severe. In mild cases, only a few joints may be affected, and a child may have nearly full range of motion. In extreme cases, nearly every joint is affected, including those of the jaw and back.

Symptoms of arthrogryposis include rigid joints, underdeveloped or absent muscle groups, deformities that are usually similar on both sides of the body, and smaller than normal jaws that may have a limited range of motion.

Arthrogryposis usually results from a lack of movement while the fetus is developing. This condition, called fetal akinesia, can be caused by muscle problems, nerve problems, or problems with the brain or spinal cord. Fetal akinesia can cause joints to become fixed in place. It can also cause extra connective tissue to develop around the joints, which further limits movement.

Proper treatment started early in life can improve the condition. Treatment typically involves splinting, bracing, occupational and physical therapy, and orthopedic surgery to help maintain and maximize range of motion and function.

Keep in Mind

Most forms of arthrogryposis cannot be cured, but with proper treatment and therapy, most kids can significantly improve their range of motion and muscle strength and function. This can enable them to do everyday activities and lead relatively normal lives.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.