Congenital Hand Differences
Congenital hand differences are abnormalities present at birth. They occur before birth when an embryo is developing the upper extremity. Congenital hand differences are caused by genetic, environmental, and unknown reasons. A variety of hand conditions may occur.
A hand surgeon and hand therapist should evaluate all babies born with a hand difference. Some conditions do not need treatment. For others, treatment during the first few years of life allows children to best adapt to their hands. Treatments may include splinting, hand therapy, or surgery.
There are several different types of congenital hand differences. Variances can range from major to minor. Some congenital hand differences are associated with other medical or genetic problems. Congenital hand differences are categorized by type including failure of formation, failure of separation, duplication, undergrowth or overgrowth, and constriction band syndrome.
Failure of formation describes upper arms, forearms, wrists, hands, or fingers that do not form completely or at all. Failure of separation includes finger webbing. Finger webbing can involve only the skin or can include the finger bones, extra bones, or fingernails. The two bones that make up the forearm, the ulna and radius, can also be joined together.
Duplication is another type of congenital hand difference. It most commonly involves an extra thumb or little finger, although duplication of any portion of the hand can occur. Overgrowth or undergrowth causes a section of the hand or arm to be too large or too small. This can affect joint structure and function. Constriction band syndrome causes tight bands of tissue to form around the arm, forearm, wrist or fingers. The constrictions can range from mild to severe. Severe constrictions can result in the loss of a portion of the hand.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.