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Female patient with congenital hand deformity

Treatment for mild to complex hand disorders

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Hand Disorders

Hand disorders and deformities can present themselves in many ways, from a congenital condition that's present at birth to a diagnosis that appears later in life after an injury. Each situation is unique, which is why every family that seeks help from Shriners Hospitals for Children is met with compassionate care from an exceptional, experienced team of pediatric orthopaedic specialists.

Congenital hand disorders (i.e. hand conditions that are apparent at birth) vary widely in terms of symptoms and treatment, and usually occur after part or all of the hand fails to form appropriately during pregnancy. This can be caused by a number of genetic and environmental factors. Other times, a severe hand or wrist injury is enough to cause a hand disorder that requires more specialized medical attention.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is well prepared to treat hand disorders of all kinds, from mild conditions to complex diagnoses that require more in-depth support services.

What causes hand disorders and deformities?

The exact cause of congenital hand disorders is unknown. Some have genetic factors involved. Research is being conducted to understand the cause of many of these disorders.

Hand disorders often begin during the development of the upper limb, which occurs between four and eight weeks of pregnancy. Any mishap with limb formation during this period can result in an arm or hand disorder. 

Early intervention with an experienced team of orthopaedic specialists is critical to the child’s development as their motor skills and strength improves after birth.

Types of hand disorders and deformities

Each type of hand disorder is associated with its own distinct symptoms and treatment options. At Shriners Hospitals for Children, we participate in the latest research and utilize medical breakthroughs to better serve our patients. It all begins with having a thorough understanding of each diagnosis.

The most common hand disorders we treat:

  • Polydactyly (extra fingers): Every case is different, but more often than not, an extra "finger" is nothing more than soft tissue that can be removed without impeding normal hand functioning. However, polydactyly may suggest the presence of a primary medical condition, so connecting with a skilled orthopaedic specialist early on is key.
  • Syndactyly (webbed fingers): This may involve some or all of the fingers, though every patient is unique. The degree to which the individual fingers are joined together may also vary. Sometimes the skin between the fingers is webbed, but the nerves, tendons, bone and blood vessels are still independent; sometimes they're shared.
  • Symbrachydactyly (missing fingers): This type of hand disorder is the most common. It also isn't limited to missing fingers. In some instances, the child may be born with small fingers or without one hand. Symbrachydactyly tends to occur on one side, and muscle abnormalities may be part of the picture, as well.
  • Trigger thumb: There's a specific tendon that helps move the joint near the tip of the thumb. If this tendon becomes compromised, the thumb can lock up and stay in a bent position; a condition known as trigger thumb. Some children are born with triggering in fingers other than the thumb.
  • Club hand: This hand disorder happens when the forearm's radius bone either never forms or forms irregularly. This typically results in a hand that bends inward, as well as a small or absent thumb.

Treatment and management approaches

At Shriners Hospitals for Children, our hand specialists share a passion for pediatric health and well-being. We understand the deep complexities that are inherent in most hand disorders, and embrace a multidisciplinary approach that streamlines treatment.

While every hand disorder is unique, below are some of the treatment and support options we offer:

Conditions, treatments and services provided may vary by location. Please consult with the Shriners Hospitals for Children location nearest you. See zip code search feature to the right.

Request an Appointment

Most major insurance providers are accepted; however, insurance coverage is not required for care. Any child under 18 with a medical condition or medical need that is within the health care system’s scope of services, is eligible for care. Shriners Hospitals for Children offers financial assistance to those in need.

Find a Location Near You

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22 Locations Across North America

Location Specialties
  • Burn Care
  • Craniofacial and Cleft Lip/Palate
  • Neuromuscular
  • Orthopaedics
  • Orthotics and Prosthetics
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Sports Injury and Fractures
  • Therapy and Rehabilitation

Notice: Treatments and services vary by location. Contact nearest hospital for specific details.

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