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Campylodactyly refers to a condition where your child has a finger which is bent forwards and cannot be fully straightened. It occurs in roughly 1% of the population. It can affect more than one finger. The little finger is the most commonly affected (70%) then the ring (20%) and other digits (10%). It is common for both hands to be affected.
It is commonly noticed at or during the adolescent growth spurt between 10 and 14 years of age. The condition tends not to progress beyond adolescence. Sometimes camptodactyly can be linked to an underlying syndrome particularly if multiple fingers are involved on both your child’s hands. This is carefully assessed for during your consultations.
It can be caused by a number of different abnormal structures within your child’s finger. The most common primary cause is an abnormality of the muscles and tendons within the finger. This then leads to changes in other surrounding structures such as the skin, bones and ligaments around the affected finger joint.
If the condition is mild which it tends to be in the majority of cases your child will function well and the curvature of your child’s finger (s) will not get in the way. In some cases when the finger contracture continues to worsen some form of hand therapy may be required to ensure that your child’s hand function is not affected. In a very small minority of cases surgery is required to straighten your child’s finger.
Hand therapy takes the form of some simple stretching exercises that you can help your child with at home. Sometimes a gentle custom-made plastic splint can be made for your child to wear at night to prevent their finger contractures from getting worse. Surgery is only used in a very small minority of cases. It is indicated when your child’s contracture is severe and worsening despite a prolonged course of hand therapy to a point where it is affecting their hand function. Surgery is effective in straightening finger joints but does run the risk reducing the joint’s overall ability to move. There is also a chance of residual deformity and the need for surgery again in the future. Therefore careful regular assessment is important before embarking upon surgery. Maintaining and improving function are always the primary goals.
If your child’s finger contracture is mild it rarely causes pain or functional problems. The majority of other cases responds well to physiotherapy and splintage. Surgery is effective in the very severe cases. It is common for camptodactyly to worsen/recur during growth spurts.