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Swan Neck Deformity
By: IHI
01.27.15 Tuesday
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Interestingly, Swan Neck deformity has nothing to do with swans or necks. It is a malformation of the finger where the DIP (or Distal Interphalangeal) joint is bent towards the palm (hyperflexed), and the PIP (or Proximal Interphalangeal) joint is bent away from the palm (hyperextended). The result is a bent finger that resembles a swan’s neck, hence the name swan neck deformity. The most common cause of swan neck deformity is rheumatoid arthritis (though it can also be caused by a trauma to the finger), because it affects the joints. RA causes chronic swelling of the PIP joint, which then loosens the volar plate in your finger. This volar plate, a ligament, tears easily, which leads to the hyperextended position of the joint. Once this occurs, the extensor tendon of the DIP joint is off balance, which causes the hyperflexed position, and swan’s neck appearance. Before you see the swan neck deformity set in, you may notice a gradual inability to close your hand into a tight fist. Once this occurs, your condition has likely already progressed. If you don’t already live with RA, you may begin experiencing symptoms similar to RA, such as reduced range of motion, stiffness in your fingers and swollen, painful joints. If you suffer from these symptoms, contact your medical professional at the Idaho Hand Institute for a complete workup, clear diagnosis, and treatment plan. For more information, please contact us at (208) 235-4263
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