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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Windblown hand

Other Names for this Disease
  • Congenital contractures of the digits
  • Congenital ulnar drift
  • Windswept hand
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Your Question

My nephew was diagnosed with windblown hand. How is this condition treated? How can I find general information?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How can I find a genetics professional in my area?

Genetics clinics are a source of information for individuals and families regarding genetic conditions, treatment, inheritance, and genetic risks to other family members. More information about genetic consultations is available from Genetics Home Reference. To find a genetics clinic, we recommend that you contact your primary healthcare provider for a referral.

The following online resources can help you find a genetics professional in your community:

Last updated: 1/21/2014

What is windblown hand?

Windblown hand is a hand deformity that is present from birth. The cause of this deformit is unkown. People with windblown hand have flexion contractures of the joints at the base of each finger that prevents normal mobility of their hand and causes their fingers to bend toward their "little" finger (i.e., ulnar drift). In addition, windblown hand is characterized by a "thumb-in-palm deformity" or "clasped thumb" where the thumb is webbed to the palm by a soft tissue bridge.[1]

Click here to view the anatomy of the hand provided by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
Last updated: 7/23/2013

What causes windblown hand?

The cause of windblown hand is unknown.[2] It is thought that windblown hand may represent a variation of some type of arthrogryposis.[1] Arthrogryposis is a very large and varied group of disorders that have the common feature of multiple congenital joint contractures.
Last updated: 7/23/2013

How rare is windblown hand?

Windblown hand is very rare. There have been approximately 120 cases reported in the medical literature.[2]
Last updated: 7/23/2013

Is windblown hand genetic?

There have been reports of both sporadic and genetic cases of windblown hand. In genetic cases, the condition is commonly described as having an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance.[2]
Last updated: 7/23/2013

Can windblown hand be associated with other malformations and syndromes?

Yes. Windblown hand can be an isolated deformity or can be associated with other malformations including digito-talar dysmorphism and distal arthrogryposis type 2A (also known as cranio-carpal-tarsal dystrophy, Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, whistling-face syndrome, and windmill-vane-hand).[2]

Windblown hand usually involves both hands, but can also affect only one hand. In cases where windblown hand involves only one hand, there may be hypertrophy of the hand and sometimes of the upper limb and shoulder girdle as well.[2]
Last updated: 7/23/2013

How might windblown hand be treated?

Treatment of windblown hand may involve surgical correction and reconstruction. Because windblown hand has many variations, each patient must be treated individually.[1] We recommend speaking with a healthcare provider to discuss your treatment options. In addition, it may be helpful to set up a consultation with a hand surgeon. The following tool can help you locate a hand surgeon in your area.

American Society for Surgery of Hand
Find-A-Hand Surgeon:

In addition, because windblown hand is thought to possibly be a variant form of arthrogryposis you may find the following Web page with links to help you locate arthrogryposis specialists and specialty centers to be helpful.

A National Support group for Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AVENUES)
Last updated: 7/23/2013

  • Wood VE, Biondi J. Treatment of the windblown hand. J Hand Surg [Am]. 1990;
  • Grunert J, Jakubietz M, Polykandriotis E, Langer M. The windblown hand - Diagnosis, clinical picture and pathogenesis. Handchir Mikrochir Plast Chir. 2004;