Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), commonly referred to as arthrogryposis, is the medical term describing the presence of multiple congenital contractures. The word arthrogryposis (arthro, from Greek meaning joint, gryp meaning curved, posis meaning fixed) refers to curved joint(s) in a fixed position. Thus, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita means curved joints in many (multiplex) areas of the body, which are present at birth(congenita).
A contracture is the limitation of movement of a specific joint, in other words, a joint that does not have a full range of movement. The contractures in most forms of arthrogryposis are usually nonprogressive and involve more than one area of the body. The word congenital simply means that the contractures are present at birth; that is, they have occurred or been produced during embryonic development. For the purposes of this book, arthrogryposis is defined as a congenital, nonprogressive limitation of movement of two or more joints in different areas of the body. Occasionally, there are conditions in which contractures are progressive.