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Claw hand

Definition

Claw hand is a condition that causes curved or bent fingers. This makes the hand appear like the claw of an animal.

See also: Claw foot

Considerations

Claw hand can be something that someone is born with (congenital) or that they develop because of certain disorders, such as nerve injury.

Common Causes

  • Congenital abnormality
  • Nerve damage in the arm
  • Scarring after a severe burn of the hand or forearm

Call your health care provider if

If the condition is congenital, it is usually diagnosed at birth. If you notice claw hand developing, contact your health care provider.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your doctor or nurse will examine you, and closely look at your hands and feet. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms.

The following tests may be done to check for nerve damage:

  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Nerve conduction studies

TREATMENT

Treatment depends on the cause. It may include:

  • Splinting
  • Surgery to fix problems that may be contributing to the claw hand, such as nerve problems, tendon abnormalities, or scar tissue
  • Therapy to straighten the fingers

References

Sarnat HB. Hereditary motor-sensory neuropathies. In:Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 605.

Preston DC, Shapiro BE. Proximal, distal, and generalized weakness. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2012:chap 25.


Review Date: 8/11/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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