Ulnar Longitudinal Deficiency (Ulnar Club Hand) | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is ulnar longitudinal deficiency diagnosed?

To diagnose ulnar longitudinal deficiency, your child’s doctor will perform a complete physical exam to evaluate the arm and check for other orthopedic differences, such as scoliosis. They will note the severity of your child’s condition and will likely classify it as one of four types.

If the doctor suspects any associated problems, such as problems with the heart, kidneys, spine, blood cells, or digestive system, they may order additional tests.

How is ulnar longitudinal deficiency treated?

Your child’s treatment will depend on how severely their arm is affected by ulnar longitudinal deficiency.

Exercises and splinting

When your child is an infant, they may need stretching exercises and splinting to help improve alignment and range of motion in their forearm. Their doctor will guide you in performing gentle, passive-motion exercises for your child’s wrist and elbow.

Range-of-motion exercises are extremely important, even if your child will eventually need surgery. Any improvement in range of motion may make future surgery more effective and possibly less complex.

Your child may need to wear a splint at night throughout their infancy and during periods when they are growing quickly.

Surgical treatments

Some types of ulnar longitudinal deficiency can be improved with surgery. Surgery often includes operations on your child’s thumb and fingers to correct hand differences. A less common surgery repositions the arm to improve its function or stabilize the elbow.

What is the long-term outlook for children with ulnar longitudinal deficiency?

Your child’s long-term outlook depends on the severity of their condition. If they have a mild case, they will have only minor limitations in their arm’s mobility, strength, and function.

Children with more severe cases will have limited mobility, strength, and function in their arm. The growth of their arm will be limited as they get older. Ongoing occupational therapy can help your child address functional challenges as they grow and develop.