What is claw hand?
Claw hand is a condition in which your fingers are noticeably curved or bent. This condition can affect one or more of your fingers, on one or both hands. The condition gets its name from the curvature of the fingers, which makes the hands resemble a bear’s claw.
Claw hand can be a congenital defect, a defect present at birth, or it may be due to certain disorders or injuries. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may have difficulty using your hands to pick up and grasp items.
How common is claw hand?
Claw hand is a common deformity. Men are more likely to develop the condition than women. However, the congenital form of claw Hand is common in both men and women. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of claw hand?
The common symptoms of claw hand are:
- Bending or flexing of one or more fingers, towards the palm
- Deformity and numbness in the affected finger
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Call your doctor if you notice that you’re developing claw hand. You should also contact your doctor if you have claw hand and your symptoms are getting worse, or aren’t responding to treatment.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes claw hand?
Common causes of claw hand include:
- Congenital birth defect. Claw hand sometimes occurs as a defect at birth.
- Nerve damage. Damage to the nerves can occur in the arm or hand from injuries or diseases, such as diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy, or damage to the nerves caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels, can lead to claw hand. Many other conditions can cause nerve damage. One common cause is cervical spondylosis, or abnormal wear of the cartilage or bone in your spine that can cause compression on your nerves. Alcoholic neuropathy is damage to the nerves caused by excessive or long-term alcohol use.
- Skin scarring. Claw hand can occur due to scarring of the skin on the arm or hand is the result of a burn injury.
- Bacterial disease. A bacterial disease such as leprosy can cause damage to the skin.
What increases my risk for claw hand?
There are no well-identified risk factors for the development of claw hand. However, men are more likely to develop this condition than women
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is claw hand diagnosed?
Doctors can make a diagnosis of claw hand based on the appearance of your fingers. However, your doctor may perform tests to determine the cause and severity of the condition.
Your doctor may ask you questions about your medical history to determine if a past injury or illness is the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor may ask you to bend your fingers and grasp objects, in addition to other tests, to see how much strength and flexibility you have in your fingers and hand.
An electromyography (EMG) test checks how well your nerves are working. To perform an EMG, your doctor will insert thin needles through your skin into the muscles of your hand. The needles connect to a machine that measures electrical impulses from your nerves when you move. You may feel a little bit of discomfort from the small needles, but it’s usually mild. You may also have slight bruising or experience minor soreness for a few days after the test.
If the EMG test results show that you have abnormal nerve activity, your doctor may run more tests to determine the cause of your nerve damage. The tests your doctor will perform depend on your medical history and any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
How is claw hand treated?
The treatment for claw hand includes both non-surgical and surgical methods, and this depends on the cause of claw hand.
- Nonsurgical treatment measures for acquired form of claw hand include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory oral medications, such as indomethacin and naproxen, may be used to help decrease the pain and swelling
- Complete immobilization of the hand with a cast may be required, to restrict movement
- Corticosteroid injections may help provide temporary relief of symptoms and improve the range of motion
- Physical therapy: After symptoms have abated, it is important to begin some light motion exercises. Physical therapy may help restore strength, flexibility, and function of the hands. This can be used for congenital form of claw hand also
Surgical treatment measures for claw hand involve fixing the underlying issues contributing to the deformity. This can include nerve problems, tendon abnormalities, or scar tissue. You may need surgery to repair damaged nerves, ligaments, or muscles that are the cause of your symptoms. If your injury is due to tight skin, as is seen in people who have burn injuries, skin grafts and surgery to remove scar tissue may be necessary. Multiple surgeries may be necessary for serious defects and for burn injuries.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage claw hand?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with claw hand:
- If the curvature of your fingers is due to an injury, resting your hand may be the only treatment you need.
- Your doctor may also suggest that you wear a brace that keeps your wrist straight to prevent further injury.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: February 20, 2019 | Last Modified: February 20, 2019
Claw Hand. https://www.dovemed.com/diseases-conditions/claw-hand/. Accessed February 20, 2019.
What Causes Claw Hand? https://www.healthline.com/symptom/claw-hand. Accessed February 20, 2019.
Claw hand. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003169.htm. Accessed February 20, 2019.