Purpose of review
The orthopaedic treatment of children with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita has evolved steadily over the past two decades. Interrelated factors have spurred this on, including better appreciation of the functional potential of persons with arthrogryposis, development of newer procedures specific for the arthrogrypotic deformities, and outcomes studies that provide understanding of the overall capabilities of adults with arthrogryposis and follow-up to determine which treatments were beneficial and which were not. This article briefly sketches out of some of these advances and indicates areas that need further development.
Outcome studies show that the majority of adults with arthrogryposis are ambulatory but less than half are fully independent. Adults frequently experience ongoing pain, particularly foot and back pain, limiting ambulation and standing. Advancements in the upper extremity treatment include improving elbow function, wrist repositioning, and improving thumb positioning. In the lower extremities, correction of hip and knee contractures leads to improved ambulatory potential, and treating clubfeet with serial casting decreases poor outcomes.
Clinical evaluation, both physical examination and assessment of the patient's needs, are important in directing treatment in arthrogryposis. Further outcomes studies are needed to continue to refine procedures and define the appropriate candidates.