Children's Hospital Colorado
Hand and Upper Extremity Program


Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What is arthrogryposis?

Arthrogryposis (also called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita or AMC) is a condition that causes unusually rigid joints and short, tight muscles. Children born with arthrogryposis may have multiple joints that don’t fully bend or extend or that are permanently fixed in one position.

These joint contractures (stiffness) most often affect joints in the arms and legs but can happen in other joints too. It can affect a few joints or many. The more joints affected, the more severe the condition.

The condition begins during pregnancy as the baby develops and may be diagnosed before or after birth.

Arthrogryposis isn’t a specific disease. The term describes a group of symptoms that may result from a variety of conditions, including neurological conditions or connective tissue disorders. In many cases they also have amyoplasia, another condition that leads to joint stiffness.

How common is arthrogryposis?

Arthrogryposis is a rare condition that affects about 1 out of every 3,000 babies. It is a congenital condition, meaning it is present at birth.

What causes arthrogryposis?

The cause of arthrogryposis is not known, but there are a few potential causes including:

  • A viral infection while the baby was growing in the mother’s uterus
  • The central nervous system and/or muscular system not developing normally during pregnancy

What are the complications of arthrogryposis?

Joint issues most commonly affect the arms, legs, hands and feet. But in some cases, they also affect the jaw and spine.

The condition ranges in severity. Children with more affected joints may have very limited mobility. Ninety percent of children with arthrogryposis have clubfoot (feet twisted so the sole cannot be placed flat on the ground). In most cases, children with arthrogryposis have typical mental development.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Sarah Sibbel, MD

Sarah Sibbel, MD

Orthopaedic Surgery, Hand Surgery

Frank Scott, MD

Frank Scott, MD

Hand Surgery

Cailin Delaney, PA-C

Cailin Delaney, PA-C

Physician Assistant