Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC)

Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC)

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), or simply arthrogryposis, is a term that describes a number of conditions that work together to cause joint stiffness and contractures. This can result in limited range of motion and the inability to fully bend or extend certain joints. AMC is typically detected at birth, or in some cases in utero, and can affect infants.

While this condition can cause unique care challenges, there are effective treatments that can significantly improve the quality of life. If you are the parent of an infant or small child with AMC, it’s important to understand the causes and therapeutic options for this condition.

What Causes Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita? 

The exact cause of AMC is currently unknown to medical researchers. Potential causes may include an underlying neurological disorder or condition affecting the connective tissue. It is also possible that AMC may develop as a result of inadequate room in the womb and/or not enough amniotic fluid.

Risk Factors of AMC 

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is a rare disorder that is diagnosed in approximately one out of every 3,000 births. Amyoplasia, the most common form of AMC that affects the upper and lower extremities, occurs in about one out of every 10,000 births.

  • Males and females tend to be equally affected, except in rare instances of X chromosome recessive disorders that affect males
  • There is also no prevalence among any specific ethnic groups
  • Genetics are linked to less than a third of cases, and typically in the more rare forms of the disorder
  • There is some evidence that increased fetal movement may increase the risk of AMC

Primary Symptoms and Complications of AMC

The primary symptom of AMC is muscle contractures that cause joints to become stiff or even frozen in a contracted or extended position. This results in reduced range of motion in the affected area, which can include the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet. More rare forms of AMC can affect the jaw and spine, causing spinal curvature.

Another common symptom is muscle weakness or diminished strength. This can occur either throughout the body or in specific locations depending on the cause.

Diagnosing and Treating AMC

For prenatal cases, doctors or other medical professionals typically detect abnormalities when conducting ultrasound tests. This will result in additional testing, although there is no definitive prenatal diagnostic test for AMC.

AMC may also be detected after birth due to the presence of multiple joint contractures. It is not a specific disease in itself but is a descriptive term for the presence of two or more joint contractures in separate locations.

To confirm the diagnosis, doctors will typically perform the following steps:

  • Perform a full physical examination
  • Review family medical history
  • Order diagnostic tests such as blood work and muscle biopsy
  • Electromyography (EMG) testing to help to distinguish between different types of AMC

Although there is not a cure, AMC is not a progressive disorder. This means that clients with this condition can often expect to manage it and achieve a satisfactory quality of life.

Common effective treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • Equipment, such as bracing and mobility aids
  • Counseling to help adjust emotionally to the condition

In some cases, orthopedic surgery can help to release contracted joints in severe instances that do not respond to therapy.

How to Care for an Infant With AMC

To ensure the best chance of healthy development and a good quality of life, infants and small children can benefit from specialized care and attention. From properly holding and feeding to helping achieve developmental milestones, parents should work with their pediatrician or orthopedic specialist to create an effective pediatric care plan.

Contact Sonas for Home Health Care in Florida

Our caring and dedicated team at Sonas Home Health Care is here for you. We are happy to work with you to develop the best plan of care for a wide range of conditions and diagnoses, including AMC.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today at (888) 592-5855.