Arachnodactyly: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

It is a condition in which the fingers are long, thin, and sometimes curved.

This anomaly gets its name due to the similarity of the fingers to the long legs of a spider.

Dolichostenomelia, which refers to a long , thin body , not just fingers, spider fingers, and achromachia, are some of the alternative names for arachnodactyly.

The formation of long, thin fingers may not be associated with any medical problems and may be normal.

However, “spider fingers” are often a sign of an underlying disorder in some cases.

Causes of arachnodactyly

Arachnodactyly is associated with several genetic disorders that affect connective tissues in the body.

Connective tissues provide structure to the body and also play an important role in growth and development.

Examples of connective tissues include bones, skin, blood, and muscles.

Since connective tissues are involved in the growth process, genetic disorders that impact connective tissues can lead to abnormal growth.

In the case of arachnodactyly, certain genetic disorders increase the growth and development of the bones in the fingers and toes, causing them to become very long and thin.

Common genetic disorders associated with arachnodactyly include:

Marfan syndrome

This disorder causes the body to make faulty versions of the protein fibrillin-1, which is involved in the formation of connective tissues.

The production of defective fibrillin-1 proteins can cause abnormal growth and lengthening of bones throughout the body, including bones in the fingers and toes.

Homocystinuria

Homocystinuria is a genetic disorder that leads to the accumulation of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the body.

The accumulation of homocysteine ​​can lead to connective tissue disorders, leading to the development of very long and thin fingers and toes.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is another genetic disorder that affects collagen within connective tissues throughout the body.

Collagen is a protein used to give strength and structure to bones, skin, and other tissues.

Collagen is also important for bone growth. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome causes the formation of weak and flexible collagen, which can result in lengthening of the bones in the fingers and toes.

Also, arachnodactyly can occur in a person without any underlying health problems.

It should be noted that arachnodactyly itself, with long, thin fingers, does not cause any major health problems.

However, the genetic disorders that cause arachnodactyly can cause other abnormalities that can lead to significant health problems.

For example, Marfan syndrome can also result in the development of an enlarged aorta that can lead to life-threatening heart problems.

The causes of arachnodactyly can include even other rare genetic disorders.

Although some children develop arachnodactyly at birth, the signs may become more apparent over time.

A doctor should be discussed if a baby has long, thin fingers and an underlying condition is suspected.

Symptoms

Among the most common symptoms are:

  • Marfan syndrome-like appearance (tall, thin person with an arm longer than the person’s height).
  • Long and thin fingers.
  • Ears »wrinkled«.
  • Major joint contractures from birth (especially knees, elbows, fingers, toes, and hips).
  • Long arched bones.
  • Muscle hypoplasia (underdeveloped muscles).

Arachnodactyly diagnosis

The doctor will perform a physical examination, where the medical history will be carried out, which includes questions such as:

  • When was it first noticed that the fingers had this shape?
  • Is there a family history of early death?
  • Does the patient have family members with known inherited disorders?
  • What are the symptoms are present?
  • Have you noticed anything else unusual?

Diagnostic tests, most of the time, are not necessary, since the physical examination by itself is sufficient.

Treatment of arachnodactyly

Since arachnodactyly is often the result of a genetic disorder that a person is born with, there are no treatments that cure this condition.

Having long, thin fingers associated with arachnodactyly usually does not cause any serious health problems and, more often, does not require any treatment.

Sometimes the long fingers of arachnodactyly can make it difficult for a person to perform normal daily activities, such as writing.

A physical or occupational therapist can work with a person who has these difficulties.

A physical or occupational therapist can provide exercises and training to help a person with arachnodactyly cope with any difficult tasks in everyday life due to their long fingers.