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A to Z: Arthrogryposis

Also called: Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenital, AMC

Arthrogryposis (ar-throw-grih-POE-sis) is a congenital (present at birth) condition of the joints and muscles. It affects a child's ability to use joints such as shoulders, wrists, fingers, and lower extremities.

More to Know

Arthrogryposis refers to a group of disorders that cause 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.

The joint stiffness that happens with arthrogryposis is called contracture (kun-TRAK-cher). It means the joint can't move the way it should. Joints may stay straight and not bend, or they may stay bent and a child can't straighten them.

Some contractures are mild. Others can be severe. Children may have trouble moving, poor growth, weak muscles, orvery thin or bony-looking arms and legs.

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

Keep in Mind

There's no cure for most forms of arthrogryposis, but with proper treatment and therapy, most kids can greattly improve their range of motion and muscle strength and function. This can help them do everyday activities and lead fairly normal lives.

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

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