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Congenital hand deformities

Congenital hand deformities

Congenital hand deformities

A congenital condition is one that a child is born with. Congenital hand deformities occur in several ways and have different causes. Some deformities can be inherited and others are caused by developmental abnormalities while the baby is still in the womb. Shriners Hospitals for Children treats a variety of congenital hand deformities, including:

Extra fingers or polydactyly – This may occur on one or both hands. The extra finger is usually a small piece of soft tissue that can be removed. Sometimes the finger will contain bones, but not joints. Very rarely the extra finger will be a complete, fully functioning digit. Polydactyly can occur by itself or be inherited, but is most often a feature of one of another underlying medical condition or syndrome.

Webbed fingers or syndactyly – This is a common condition in which a child’s fingers or toes do not fully separate during development. The spaces between the connected fingers and toes may be webbed, or they may be fully attached and sharing tendons, nerves, blood vessels and bone. Syndactyly can be subdivided into several different types depending on which fingers are connected and how many.

Syndactyly can be inherited or can occur independently, even if the condition doesn’t run in the family. Most cases are isolated and occur in a child who is completely healthy otherwise.

Missing fingers or symbrachydactyly – Children born with symbracydactyly have small or missing fingers, or a missing hand. They may also have webbed fingers, or a short hand or forearm.

Symbrachydactyly is the most common type of hand or arm deficiency, but the exact cause is unknown. Also, it does not seem to run in families. The condition is usually only present on one side and there may be muscle abnormalities on that side as well.

Abnormal thumbs or trigger thumb – Trigger thumb occurs when there is a bump on the tendon that moves the joint near the tip of the thumb, causing the thumb to jump or “trigger” when it’s used. In some cases the thumb may be locked in a bent position.

Trigger thumb is caused by a tendon that is too thick and so is unable to move normally, causing the thumb to lock.

Diagnosing congenital hand deformities

Congenital hand deformities are easily spotted at birth. Depending on the type and severity of the deformity the child may undergo additional testing to determine if the hand deformity is part of an underlying medical issue.

Treatment of congenital hand deformities

The goal of treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children is to maximize function and help children lead as normal a life as possible. Treatment will depend on the type of hand deformity and the severity of the condition. Treatments available include:

  • Separation and reconstruction of attached digits
  • Removal of extra fingers
  • Surgery to optimize a limb for a prosthetic
  • Custom prosthetic devices
  • Physical and occupational therapy
   
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