Also known as: joint contractions, arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC), distal arthrogryposis, Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, amyoplasia.

What is arthrogryposis?

Arthrogryposis is a condition that impacts some babies at birth. The joints don’t move very much or might not move at all. This frequently impacts the arms and legs. Often the muscles responsible for moving the joints are thin, weak, or missing. This results in joint contractures (i.e., tight joints).

What causes arthrogryposis?

The exact causes of arthrogryposis remain unknown. Arthrogryposis can be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors. It can occur as a result of a condition known as fetal akinesia, meaning the baby does not move around very much in the womb. While there are many reasons why fetal akinesia may occur (e.g., problems in the brain or spinal cord, oligohydramnios, weak/abnormal muscle formation), the cause of arthrogryposis is often not known.

What are the symptoms of arthrogryposis?

The primary symptoms of arthrogryposis include joints that do not move very well or are stuck in one position. This can impact the shoulder (internally rotated), wrist (volar and ulnar flexion), hand (fingers flexed; thumb in palm), hip (flexed, abducted, externally rotated), elbow (extension and pronation) and foot (clubfoot). Often, the muscles around the joint are weak, stiff or missing.

What are arthrogryposis care options?

Initial treatment of arthrogryposis is directed at conservative measures, including occupational therapy, physical therapy and splinting. Splints and casts are typically used to increase joint mobility and muscle strength.  With the help of therapists, adaptive use patterns are identified and developed to allow for walking and independence with activities of daily living.  In some cases, surgery can be considered to improve appearance and function of the affected limb, especially the hand.

Reviewed by: Aaron J Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: October 18, 2019 01:48 PM