Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Arthrogryposis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Arthrogryposis

Children with arthrogryposis are born with joints that have limited movement or are stuck in one position (contractures). They may also have:

  • Thin, weak (atrophied), stiff or missing muscles
  • Stiff joints due to extra tissue (fibrosis or fibrous ankylosis)
  • Differences in the skin around their joints, such as webbing

There's a wide range of how children are affected, from mild (few contractures with nearly normal movement) to serious (many contractures with little or no movement).

Arthrogryposis is a feature of other, more complex conditions. Your child may have other problems with their nervous system, muscles, heart, kidneys or other organs, or differences in how their limbs, skull or face formed.

Arthrogryposis Diagnosis

If the doctor thinks your child has arthrogryposis, they will examine your child carefully. During the exam, the doctor looks for details about how your child formed and how their joints are affected. The doctor also checks for problems with other body systems to tell whether your child has a more complex condition.


To get more information, your child may need one or more tests, such as these:

  • X-ray to check their bones and joints
  • Ultrasound to check their central nervous system (CNS) and organs
  • CT (computed tomography) scan to check their bones
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan to check their CNS or muscles
  • Muscle biopsy to see if their muscle fibers are normal
  • Skin biopsy or blood tests to check their chromosomes for anything that is not normal
  • Electromyogram and nerve conduction velocity (EMG/NCV) studies to tell whether a problem with their nervous system or their muscles is the cause and to tell how quickly signals travel along their nerves

Genetic tests can tell your doctor more about some forms of arthrogryposis, so your child's team may suggest these tests, too.

Prenatal diagnosis

Sometimes doctors can diagnose arthrogryposis based on what they see during an ultrasound before a baby is born. If this happens, talk with your healthcare team about what they can tell from the ultrasound and what it may mean for you and your baby. Our team at Seattle Children's Arthrogryposis Clinic is happy to provide prenatal consultations to talk with you about your baby's condition.