Arthrogryposis

Arthrogryposis is a congenital birth condition that is marked by multiple joint contractures in the body. One in 3,000 children will have this problem and it develops both in boys and girls. It is a neuro-muscular skeletal disorder affecting all parts of the body and in medical terms it is described as “arthrogryposis multiplex congenital”. There would be stiffness and poor movement of the joints and muscles. Here the joint remains in the form of curved position and is inherited by birth. The disorder is progressive and nothing much can be done to prevent it.

Causes :

The major cause for this condition is the reduced movement of the fetus inside the womb. The fetus should make flexible movements inside the mother’s uterus for normal development of joints and muscles. However some reason prevents the fetus movement leading to contracture of joints and muscles. There would be an extra tissue around the joint of the baby that forms during 8th to 10th week of pregnancy and it is what restricts the movements of the joint.

Any malfunction during the development of central nervous system of brain causes this disorder in the child. Myotonic dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy and severe infections like measles during pregnancy can be the reason for arthrogryposis.

Consumption of alcohol and drugs that are poisonous to the child’s development can also cause this problem. If the mother had fever for long time during her pregnancy it would increase body temperature and will leave the fetus get soaked in hot tub (inside the womb) for prolonged time.

Due to neuropathic processes, the baby’s nerve may not mature enough for normal functioning which may cause this disorder. Sometimes, due to improper circulation of the blood inside the fetus body the nerves may not receive enough nourishment which may account for poor muscle development or deformed muscles and joints.

Arthrogryposis can happen if there is not adequate amount of amniotic fluid facilitating free movement of the fetus.

Symptoms :

The symptoms are different in each child depending on the severity of the problem caused during the fetal development. The arms and legs are badly affected and the ankles and wrists of the child looks deformed. For some children, there would be very less or even no movement of joints in the arms and legs. Muscular growth in those regions are almost absent for affected children. The hip joint will not be fixed in proper place.

The spinal cord may look curvy and the child may have deformity in his face and genitals. In addition, the child may suffer from acute respiratory problem and cardiac problem by birth.

Diagnoses :

This disorder can be identified by routine ultrasound scan or CT scan of the child to detect the extent of abnormality in the joints and central nervous system.

Pictures of Arthrogryposis :

Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Arthrogryposis

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Treatment :

Since the disorder is congenital (inherited by birth) there is no way one can prevent this problem. Soon after birth, the affected child should be given regular physical therapy for stretching and contracting the joints so that the muscles become strong. Effective physiotherapy is useful for strengthening the muscles and repositioning the child’s limbs and arms. The baby is to given such therapies during the first 4 months period wherein the contractures would loosen rapidly giving way for strengthened joints and muscles.

Occupational therapy is given for the child to use the available motor functions in effective ways. Doctors would advice using splints for stretching the joints and the child should wear it day and night.

In severe cases, orthopedic surgery is done for correcting the joint problem to some extent. The child having club foot or hernia or hip displacement problem will be cured through proper surgeries.

For repairing congenital heart disease, corrective surgery is done on the heart.

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