Orthopedic Conditions


Facts About Arthrogryposis

Arthrogryposis is a term used to describe a number of rare, non-progressive conditions characterized by stiff joints and abnormal muscle development. It is also referred to as arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) or amyloplasia.

The exact cause of arthrogryposis is unknown, though a number of different theories have been proposed. Some believe that arthrogryposis is caused by mechanical obstructions to intrauterine movement during pregnancy. Others believe that it may be a result of an early viral infection during development. Still others believe that arthrogryposis is the result of failure of the central nervous system and/or muscular system to develop appropriately. Arthrogryposis is not thought to be a genetic or hereditary condition.

Arthrogryposis Challenges

When Athrogryposis affects the spine, it can cause scoliosis. This form is progressive, meaning it will get worse over time. In some children, there may also be hip dislocation, clubfeet and hands, facial deformities, abnormalities of the spinal cord, respiratory and cardiac disorders, abnormalities of the genital tract and skin disorders.

Arthrogryposis Treatment

Physical Therapy: PT uses stretches and exercises to increase the range of motion and muscle strength while working on gross motor skills, like rolling, sitting, crawling, standing and walking.  

Occupational Therapy: OT can help a child learn to adapt to their limitations in order to care for themselves, as well as improving fine motor skills like pinching, writing, and holding utensils to eat.  

Splints/Casts: PTs and OTs may use splints and casts as part of therapy. These supports can help line up the bones so the child can move better and can also help keep the joints stretched. How and when these are needed are individual to the child. 

Speech Therapy: If the joints of the jaw are involved, the child may need speech therapy, which will help improve the use of the muscles in their face.  

Surgery: In certain cases, surgery can help increase mobility in the child’s joints. There are several different types of surgery that could be used: 

  • Surgery to cut into or through the bone to change how the bones line up. They may also change the size or position of the bone.  
  • Surgery to stretch or release the muscles or tendons that are restricting movement
  • Surgery for scoliosis, clubfoot or hip dislocation

Arthrogryposis Prognosis

Most children with this special need have a normal life span and can lead independent lives. However, some children with more serious cases need lifelong help with daily activities.

Resources for Arthrogryposis