Arthrogryposis is a term used to describe a contracture (permanent shortening) of a joint that is present at birth. This rare condition begins in the womb. Muscles and joints that are affected by this condition do not develop normally and are stiff and inflexible. If a person has more than one location where joints are contracted and/or stiff, the condition is called, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). Most often affected joints are in the arms and legs, but this condition can also happen in the skull, facial bones or spine. There are currently more than 300 known genetic abnormalities that are associated with arthrogryposis.
If you or your child’s pediatrician is worried your child has a form of arthrogryposis, our experts can help. At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, our leading clinicians provide specialized, tailored and comprehensive care for patients who have arthrogryposis.
Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC):
- Is congenital (happens before birth).
- Is nonprogressive—more of the body’s joints won’t develop arthogryposis. But the contractures can worsen over time, especially without treatment.
- Causes multiple joint contractures (two or more joints are affected). Typical patterns include tight shoulders, straight elbows and bent wrists.
Common signs of arthrogryposis
- Two or more joints that are limited in motion
- Loss of the skin creases over the joints, especially the knees, elbows and fingers
- Difficulty moving joints
- Bones above or below the affected joints that appear curved or bowed
- Delayed motor movement
Causes of arthrogryposis
The true cause of arthrogryposis is unknown, especially since it’s associated with so many different genetic mutations. It is thought that some types of arthrogryposis may be caused by reduced fetal movement in the womb.