Congenital hand conditions

Congenital hand conditions, otherwise known as congenital hand differences, are conditions that a baby is born with, which affect the appearance and functioning of the upper limb or hand.

Common congenital hand conditions include polydactyly (extra fingers), syndactyly (joined fingers), amniotic band syndrome and limb deficiencies (transverse and radial deficiency).

What causes a congenital hand condition to develop?

While it is unknown what causes these congenital hand disorders, malformations usually develop early during pregnancy, but deformations can develop later on in pregnancy. They can range from mild to severe and can be both physically and emotionally challenging. In mild cases, a child can learn to adapt without treatment, but in more severe cases, treatment may be aimed to allow the child to function independently.

What does treatment entail?

The goal for treatment of a hand difference is to improve the functioning of the limb as well as the appearance of the affected hand as much as possible.

Non-surgical methods may involve therapeutic recreation to enhance the child's self-confidence, physical and occupational therapy to strengthen and train the hand and arm and enhance motion in the wrist and fingers. Our hand therapists can assist your child in gaining the best use of his or her hands. Using specialised adaptive devices may also be used to make everyday tasks easier, and prosthetics may be an option to address the appearance issues.

There are also various surgical procedures that may be done to treat congenital hand disorders. Whether or not surgery would be advised for your child will depend on the type and extent of the congenital deformity, your child's age and the needs of your child and your family. Some surgeries may be done during the early months after birth, while others may be done years later, depending on the individual case.

As specialists in this field of hand surgery, The Garden Route Hand Unit offers the compassionate expertise you need. We are highly trained in the surgical separation of webbed or joined fingers, removal of extra fingers, reconstruction of parts of the hand as well as the skin grafting that be needed thereafter.