Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita: Signs and Symptoms


Finding out your child is diagnosed with any medical condition is disheartening. You have to deal with the shock, disbelief, and anger. You then have to familiarize yourself with what it all means — and how it will affect the life of your baby and family. Things can feel even more frightening if the ailment is one most people have never heard of. Such is the case with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. What is it? What causes it? And, what are the best treatment options for your child?

What is arthrogryposis multiplex congenita?

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is a condition that occurs in newborns. It causes decreased flexibility in the joints. While it is not progressive, your baby will need treatment to ensure they are able to use their joints in the future. It’s also important to note that arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying health condition.

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita typically affects the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet joints. However, in more severe cases, it can also affect the jaw and spine. Sometimes, a baby will be born with an isolated joint contracture — such as clubfoot. But when the condition affects two or more parts of the body, it is known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. The severity of the ailment can also range from mild to severe, and the joints of the legs are usually the most affected. The condition has no cure.

Types of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita

There are two main types of arthrogryposis multiplex congenita:

  1. Amyoplastia (classic arthrogryposis). This involves multiple joints being affected, due to underdeveloped muscles and fatty degeneration.
  2. Distal arthrogryposis. This usually affects the hands and feet, but spares larger joints. They are usually associated with defective genes.

Symptoms of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is present at birth and is characterized by stiff and weak joints throughout the baby’s body. The most common telltale signs include:

  • Joints are permanently fixed at a bent or in a straightened position
  • Tube-shaped or underdeveloped limbs
  • Limited or absent movement of the joints
  • Limbs that feel like dough
  • Abnormally thin limbs
  • Cleft palate
  • In male babies, the testicles may fail to descend

Causes of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita

There are several causes of arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. These include an abnormal muscle development while in utero, not enough space for the baby to develop inside the womb, malformed nervous system and/or spinal cord, and joints and bones not developing correctly. It’s also possible to occur as a result of too much tissue forming around joints — making it difficult to move them.

Treatment Options for Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita

While babies with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita will have to undergo treatment to assist them in moving their joints, their speech and cognitive abilities will not be affected. Therefore, with proper intervention — and in some cases, surgery — these children can lead productive and independent lives.

To diagnose a child, specialists will run bloodwork as well as conduct muscle biopsies. It’s also possible the baby will require electromyography (EMG). Once diagnosed, the child may require several treatments:

1. Physical and Occupational Therapy

These therapies will include stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as mobility training and working with your child’s motor skills. They are designed to improve your child’s range of motion and foster independence.

2. Psychological Therapy

Since a child may need to undergo therapy for extended periods of time, it’s important to address how doing so may affect them emotionally. Therefore, this type of therapy is important to help them build their self-esteem.

3. Orthopedic Surgery

In some cases, the child may need surgical intervention to regain mobility of their joints. An orthopedic surgeon will conduct examinations to determine what would be the best course of action. Typical procedures include Achilles tendon release, limb lengthening, or spinal surgery.

Contact Sonas for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Sonas Home Health Care are here to help.

Our home 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.