Brachydactyly is a shortening
of the fingers and toes due to unusually short bones. This is an inherited
condition, and in most cases does not present any problems for the person who
has it. There are different types of brachydactyly, based on which bones that
are shortened. This condition can also be a symptom of other genetic disorders.
Unless there is an
accompanying disorder that produces symptoms, or the shortened digits impair
the use of hands and feet, there is no treatment needed for brachydactyly. If
you have this condition, you might feel a little self-conscious about your
shorter fingers and toes, but there is no reason to be worried about any health
Symptoms of Brachydactyly
Brachydactyly is an
inherited condition. The signs are usually present at birth, but it is possible
that shortened digits may become more obvious with growth and development. The
main symptom or sign of brachydactyly is having fingers, toes, or both, that
are shorter than normal. Unless you have another condition associated with
brachydactyly, you should not feel any pain, or have any other symptoms.
The shortened fingers and
toes of brachydactyly may cause you to have trouble finding shoes and gloves
that fit. You may also experience some difficulty with grip. If the
brachydactyly is severe in the feet, you may have some impaired walking. These
symptoms are rare, however, when there is no accompanying condition.
Causes of Brachydactyly
Brachydactyly is an
inherited condition, which means that the cause is genetic. If you have
shortened fingers or toes, you most likely can find other members of your
family that have the same condition. It is also possible that your
brachydactyly is symptomatic of a genetic syndrome. If this is the case, you
will have other symptoms besides the shortened fingers or toes.
Types of Brachydactyly
The different types of
brachydactyly are categorized by the bones and digits affected.
Type A brachydactyly is the
shortening of the middle phalanges. These are the finger bones that are the
second from the end of each digit. Type A is further classified by finger. In
type A1, the middle phalanges of all the fingers are shortened. Type A2 affects
the index finger and sometimes the little finger. Type A3 affects only the
Type B brachydactyly affects
the end of each finger. The last bone on each finger is shortened or completely
missing. The nails are also absent. The same occurs in the toes. The thumbs may
be shorter, but are intact.
Type C is rare and
affects the index, middle, and little fingers. The middle phalanges, as in type
A, are shortened, but the ring finger is often not affected and is the longest
finger on the hand.
brachydactyly is considered to be common and affects only the thumbs. The end
bones of the thumbs are shortened but all the fingers are normal.
Type E brachydactyly
is a rare form if it is not accompanied by another disorder. It is
characterized by shortened metacarpals and metatarsals. These are the bones in
the hands and feet that are third and fourth from the end of the digits. The
result is small hands or feet.
Diagnosis of Brachydactyly
A careful examination of the
hands and feet by a doctor may be enough to diagnose brachydactyly. X-rays can
also be used to see which bones are shortened and to diagnose the type of
brachydactyly. In mild cases, an X-ray may be the only way to tell that the
condition is present.
To determine if
brachydactyly is part of a syndrome, a full skeletal X-ray may be done. This
can help determine if other bones in the body are abnormal, which can pinpoint
a syndrome. Genetic testing may also be necessary to determine if the syndrome is
Treatment for Brachydactyly
In a large majority of cases
of brachydactyly, no treatment is necessary. If your condition is not a part of
another syndrome, you should be healthy and have no medical concerns related to
your hands and feet.
In rare cases, brachydactyly
may be severe enough to present problems. You may have trouble gripping things
or walking normally. In these instances, physical therapy can help. In extreme
cases, surgery may help.
Prognosis for Brachydactyly
Almost all people with
brachydactyly live completely normal lives. Some may feel self-conscious about
the appearance of their hands or feet, but are otherwise healthy. If
brachydactyly is connected to another syndrome, the outlook varies depending on
each individual situation.