Arthrogryposis (Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita) is a term describing the presence of a muscle disorder that causes multiple joint contractures at birth. A contracture is a limitation in the range of motion of a joint.
Causes for limitation of joint movement before birth:
- Muscles do not develop properly (atrophy)
- There is insufficient room in the uterus for normal movement
- Central nervous system and spinal cord are malformed
- Tendons, bones, joints or joint linings may develop abnormally
In most cases, arthrogryposis is not a genetic condition and does not occur more than once in a family. Research has shown that anything that prevents joint movement before birth can result in joint contractures. The joint itself may be normal. However, when a joint is not moved for a period, extra connective tissue tends to grow around it, fixing it in position. Lack of joint movement also means that tendons connecting to the joint are not stretched to their normal length; short tendons, in turn, make normal joint movement difficult. (This same kind of problem can develop after birth in joints that are immobilized for long periods of time in casts.)
- Physical Therapy
There is a wide variation in the degree to which muscles and joints are affected in those with arthrogryposis. In some cases, it may be accompanied by other conditions, such as central nervous system disorders. It is non-progressive; it does not worsen with age. With physical therapy and other available treatments, substantial improvement in function is usually possible. Most people with arthrogryposis are of normal intelligence and are able to lead productive, independent lives as adults.
Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita – National Organization for Rare Diseases – Signs, symptoms, causes and more.
This information was provided by the Spokane Shriners Hospital.
Fact Sheet last updated on: 3/25/2020
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