Arthrogryposis: Symptoms, Treatments


Arthrogryposis, or arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), is a rare condition that exists at the time of birth, which means that it is congenital in nature. It refers to the development of multiple joint contractures affecting two or more areas of the body prior to birth.

The name arthrogryposis derives from a Greek term which means “curving of joints”.


Arthrogryposis can be divided into three groups: amyoplasia, distal arthrogryposis, and syndromic.

  • Amyoplasia: It is characterized by severe joint contractures and muscle weakness.
  • Distal Arthrogryposis: The joint contractures mainly occur at the hands and feet.
  • Syndromic: It is featured by a primary neurological or muscle disease.


A variety of symptoms can present when developing arthrogryposis, which include:

  • Internal shoulder rotation difficulties
  • Have trouble in the pronation and extension of the elbow
  • Difficulties in moving wrist, hip, and knee
  • Difficulties of opening and closing movements with the hand
  • Clubfoot
  • Hypoplasia of the lung
  • Face and jaw irregularities
  • Respiratory issues
  • Retarded growth
  • Hernias in the abdomen
  • Hemangiomas in the face


The exact causes of arthrogryposis are unknown yet, but the following factors may lead to it:

  • Fetal hyperthermia
  • Prenatal viruses
  • Vascular compromise of the fetus
  • Fetal akinesia
  • Muscle and connective tissue development disorders
  • Neurological abnormalities
  • Decreased levels of amniotic fluid
  • Uterine septum
  • Malformation of the central nervous system and the spinal cord


The diagnosis of arthrogryposis is based on genetic testing.


Arthrogryposis is a condition which can not be reversed. But patients can do certain exercises to help them improve this condition. The suggested treatments are as follows:

  • Stretching Exercises: They are performed to help ease out the tension in the muscle group involved.
  • Strengthening Exercises: They are performed to help muscle tissue bear greater loads, which are especially useful for those who have lower extremity arthrogryposis.
  • Passive Enhancement: A number of passive devices are intended to be worn to aid movement and encourage muscular development. Examples of such devices include Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton and Playskin Lift.
  • Wrist Surgery: Wrist procedure of tendon transfer of the extensor carpi ulnaris, to the extensor carpi radialis brevis may be performed to correct ulnar deviation or wrist extension weakness.
  • Thumb Surgery: The most common technique used in thumb surgery is the index rotation flap. The flap is rotated around the tightest part of the thumb to the metacarpophalangeal joint of the thumb, allowing for a larger range of motion.
  • Orthopedic Surgery: Patients with hip dislocation or contracture, clubfoot or hernias may benefit from this approach.

Keywords: arthrogryposis; arthrogryposis multiplex congenita; AMC.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.