By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What is dwarfism?

Dwarfism is a condition characterized by shorter than normal skeletal growth. This shortness can be manifested in the arms and legs or trunk. There are over 300 conditions that cause abnormal skeletal growth and dwarfism.

Achondroplasia is the most common type of short-limb dwarfism, occurring in around one in 25,000 children with both sexes at equal risk.

It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of dwarfism?

The symptoms of dwarfism include:

  • A trunk of relatively normal length;
  • Disproportionately short arms and legs;
  • Bowed legs;
  • Reduced joint mobility in the elbow;
  • Other joints that seem overly flexible, or double jointed because of loose ligaments;
  • Shortened hands and feet;
  • A large head;
  • A flat mid-face;
  • Crowded teeth because of small upper jaw;
  • A prominent forehead;
  • A flattened bridge of the nose.

Your symptoms could lead to the complications if you do not treat it well. Complications of dwarfism-related disorders can vary greatly, but some complications are common to a number of conditions, such as disproportionate dwarfism, proportionate dwarfism, or public perceptions.

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?

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.

Know the causes

What are the causes of dwarfism?

According to some studies, there are over 300 conditions that cause abnormal skeletal growth and dwarfism. For more details, most are caused by a spontaneous genetic change (mutation) in the egg or sperm cells prior to conception. Others are caused by genetic changes inherited from one or both parents.

Know the risk factors

Who is at risk of dwarfism?

Those who have genetic or medical condition problem are more likely to develop dwarfism.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is dwarfism diagnosed?

A diagnosis of dwarfism is based primarily on measurements of the child’s height, weight, and head circumference. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Measurements;
  • Appearance;
  • Imaging technology;
  • Genetic tests;
  • Family history;
  • Hormone tests.

How is dwarfism treated?

Most dwarfism treatments do not increase stature but may correct or relieve problems caused by complications.

Surgical treatments

Surgical procedures that may correct problems in people with disproportionate dwarfism:

  • Correcting the direction in which bones are growing;
  • Stabilizing and correcting the shape of the spine;
  • Increasing the size of the opening in bones of the spine (vertebrae) to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord;
  • Placing a shunt to remove excess fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus), if it occurs.

Limb lengthening

Some people with dwarfism choose to extend limb lengthening. However, this procedure is controversial for many people with dwarfism because of their risks.

Also, the emotional and physical stress of multiple procedures, waiting until the person with dwarfism is old enough to participate in the decision to have the surgery is recommended.

Hormone therapy

For individuals with dwarfism due to growth hormone deficiency, hormone therapy may increase their final height.  In most cases, children receive daily injections for several years until they reach a maximum adult height, often within the average adult range for their family.

Ongoing health care

Regular checkups and ongoing care by a doctor familiar with dwarfism can improve a quality of life. Also, adults with dwarfism should continue to be monitored and treated for problems that occur throughout life.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

How can I manage my dwarfism?

These steps would help your child with dwarfism to deal with challenges and function independently:

  • Seek help. You should find a nonprofit organization which provides social support, information about disorders, advocacy opportunities, and resources.
  • Adjust your home. Some changes in your home could be done by putting specially designed extensions on light switches, installing lower handrails in stairways and replacing doorknobs with levers.
  • Provide personal adaptive tools. You should prepare appropriate tools for home and school use.
  • Communicate with your child’s school. Talk to school personnel about what dwarfism is, how it affects your child, what needs your child may have in the classroom and how the school can help meet those needs.
  • Talk about teasing. Encourage your child to talk to you about his or her feelings, and practice responses to insensitive questions and teasing.

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: September 19, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019