Buttonhole Deformity

illustration of inflamed hand bone jointsWhat Is Buttonhole Deformity?
Buttonhole deformity is a condition caused by damage to the tendons of the finger. It is painful and makes using the hand difficult, and if it goes untreated it can cause permanent damage. However, it is usually not difficult for a physician to correct, so it should be treated as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Buttonhole Deformity
In cases of buttonhole deformity, the finger loses the ability to straighten at the middle joint. The fingertip also bends backward at the last joint, producing a hooked appearance. There will usually be pain and swelling on the upper side of the finger’s middle joint as well.

Causes of Buttonhole Deformity
This condition is caused by damage to the tendon that runs across the top of the finger and attaches to the middle bone. This is the tendon responsible for straightening the finger. When this tendon is not working properly, the other tendons pull the finger back, producing the crooked shape of a buttonhole deformity.

The tendon can be injured by a blow to the top of the finger, or by jamming the finger against a hard surface. Cuts or burns to the top of the finger can also damage the tendon. Arthritis in the fingers can also make it difficult for the tendon to function properly.

Treatment of Buttonhole Deformity
Your physician will test your ability to move your finger to determine the cause of the deformity. He or she will probably also ask for X-rays to make sure there are no broken bones or other severe damage in the finger.

Once a buttonhole deformity has been confirmed, the doctor will likely apply a splint to the affected finger to keep it straight and allow the tendon to heal. This splint must be worn continuously for 3-6 weeks.

In serious cases, where the tendon is completely cut through or damaged from arthritis, surgery may be needed to repair it. In these cases, the finger may never quite regain full flexibility. The sooner the deformity is treated, however, the better the results will likely be.

For more information about buttonhole deformity and other disorders of the hand, or to schedule an examination or treatment, contact us at Carolina Hand.

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