Arthrogryposis is a term used to describe a number of rare conditions characterized by stiff joints and abnormally developed muscles. It’s also referred to as arthrogryposis multiplex congenital, or amyloplasia.

Arthrogryposis is not thought to be a genetic or hereditary condition. The exact cause of arthrogryposis is unknown, but a number of different theories have been proposed:

  • Some believe that arthrogryposis is caused by obstructions to intrauterine movement during pregnancy.
  • Others believe that it may be a result of an early viral infection during a baby’s development.
  • Others believe that arthrogryposis is the result of failure of the central nervous system and/or muscular system to develop appropriately.

How common is arthrogryposis?

Arthrogryposis is a rare condition, though the exact frequency with which it occurs is unknown. Previous studies estimate that it affects one to three of every 10,000 babies.

What symptoms might my child have?

Each child experience symptoms differently, but here is a list of some common ones:

  • The range of motion of the joints in your child’s arms and legs may be limited or fixed.
  • Your child’s shoulders may be rotated inward.
  • She may have abnormal extension of her elbows.
  • She may be able to flex her wrists and fingers abnormally.
  • She could have dislocated hips.
  • She may have clubfoot.

A baby in a crib.Boston Children’s Hospital's approach to arthrogryposis

You can have peace of mind knowing that the skilled experts in our Orthopedic Center's Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program have treated thousands of babies and children with many hand conditions. We provide expert diagnosis, treatment, and care, and we benefit from our advanced clinical and scientific research.

Your child will undergo a course of occupational therapy, which will help improve her flexibility and strength in the joints and muscles. Specialists in the Occupational Therapy Program at Boston Children’s will collaborate with you and your child’s doctor to provide the best possible care for your child.

Treatment programs for arthrogryposis are based on thorough evaluations and are always individualized to meet the needs of your child.