Radial Longitudinal Deficiency (Radial Club Hand) | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of radial longitudinal deficiency?

When your child has radial longitudinal deficiency:

  • the affected arm is shorter, with curving of the forearm and stiffness of the wrist and fingers
  • the thumb is either very small or missing

The arrangement of muscles and nerves may be unbalanced, and some muscles and nerves may even be missing.

Functional consequences depend upon the severity of radial longitudinal deficiency. In the most severe cases, your child may have very limited range of motion at the wrist because the radius is completely absent. Other problems that cause limited function include:

  • an underdeveloped or missing thumb
  • abnormal muscles in the forearm, wrist, and hand
  • curvature and/or shortening of the ulna

In mild cases, the radius is merely slightly smaller than the ulna and there is minimal wrist deviation. This generally does not cause many problems with your child’s development or hand function.

What causes radial longitudinal deficiency?

Radial longitudinal deficiency usually occurs sporadically (by chance). Doctors and scientists don’t know why radial longitudinal deficiency affects certain children.

In some children, radial longitudinal deficiency is associated with other congenital anomalies or syndromes that are known to have a genetic component. Some associated deformities or syndromes include those of the:

  • heart (such as Holt-Oram syndrome, also called hand-heart syndrome)
  • kidneys, spinal column and/or digestive system (such as VACTERL syndrome)
  • blood cells (such as Fanconi anemia) thrombocytopenia-absent radius syndrome (TAR)