The Curtis National Hand Center holds a free congenital hand clinic each month for children and adults with congenital hand and arm difference to be evaluated by a team of hand specialists. Call 410-235-5405 for more information.
Common Congenital Differences
Congenital differences of the hand and arm are variations from the normal that are present from birth. Common congenital differences include a smaller arm with muscles, bones, and/or joints that have not formed normally. Some common variations include:
Radial Club Hand- Abnormality of the radial bone in the arm, which can cause "bowing" or "curving"of the arm.
Transverse Deficiencies- Malformation of the arm that is characterized by absence of the limb beyond a certain point.
Syndactyly- Fingers that are fused together. Sometimes referred to as "webbed" fingers. Can be partially or fully fused.
Polydactyly- Presence of extra fingers either partial or full, on one or both hands.
Causes of Congenital Differences
The causes of congenital differences can be explained in some cases. In others the cause is unknown. Many malformations emerge at the moment of conception or in the second month of fetal development when the human arm bud appears and fully develops within the 25th and 50th day after fertilization. Some congenital abnormalities are inherited and may skip generations. There are also genetic differences with non-genetic causes related to certain drugs and various chemotherapy treatments. Other systems in the body may be affected in conjunction with certain types of congenital differences. These may include heart problems, other musculoskeletal problems, and/or blood disorders. Our team of physicians will help you find answers to your questions about what happened and why, and may also refer you to a geneticist.
Treatments for Congenital Differences
The goal in treating a hand or arm congenital difference is to allow the individual to function as normally as possible. Parents of babies with birth defects normally go through a period of shock, anger, and guilt. Counseling can help parents to cope emotionally and accept what has happened. The child will need strong and consistent loving support from their parents to accept the difference and achieve emotional stability.
Physical treatment options include physical therapy, protheses (artificial limbs), and surgical intervention. An individualized plan of care will be developed for each patient. In cases where blood supply is constricted (Constriction Band Syndrome) or in syndactyly, where fingers are joined together and separation is needed for proper growth, early intervention may be necessary.
Our hand team will discuss the treatment goals and options with the patient and/or family and child, if he or she is old enough to understand. In the case of a child, our team of hand experts work closely with the family to meet the child's needs and overcome the challenges more easily.
Watch this video to learn more about the treatment of congenital differences at The Curtis National Hand Center.
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