Cheiroarthropathy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Cheiroarthropathy is a disorder in which there is a limited finger movement as the hands become waxy and thickened. This is a diabetes complication and is also known as Diabetic cheiroarthropathy or Diabetic stiff hand syndrome. People with both the types of diabetes, i.e. diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2 can be affected by Cheiroarthropathy. However, optimizing glycemic control and physical therapy can slow down the development of this diabetes complication. Let us know about the condition in a more precise way.

An Introduction On “Cheiroarthropathy: A Diabetes Complication”:

Diabetes mellitus or diabetes, is a chronic medical condition that is associated with abnormally high levels of glucose or sugar in the blood. This condition can lead to eye, kidney, nerve as well as heart damage. Diabetes can also be complicated by a syndrome that affects the function of your hands, and is known as Cheiroarthropathy, where there is a limited joint mobility in the fingers and the hands. Here the patients are unable to extend the fingers to fully flatten the hand. In Cheiroarthropathy, typically both the hands are affected. Rarely, the larger joints are affected in Cheiroarthropathy.

This diabetes complication has been reported in more than half of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes and approximately three quarters of those people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Cheiroarthropathy occurs more frequently in individuals with a long history of diabetes

Symptoms of Cheiroarthropathy

Symptoms of Cheiroarthropathy:

Cheiroarthropathy is characterized by the inability to strengthen joints in the hands and thus the function of the hands can be severely limited. The sufferers find stiffness begins in their little finger and the spreads to the thumbs. Eventually, this stiffness can prevent the patients bringing all of their fingers together completely upon holding their palms together. Other symptoms of Cheiroarthropathy include thick, tight, and waxy skin on the back of the hands.

Causes of Cheiroarthropathy:

Though the exact cause of Cheiroarthropathy is unknown, there are several factors that are thought to be related to its underlying cause. One of the factor is when, Glycosylation, or the process of sugar molecules attaching to the protein molecules, is increased and cause additional collagen in the skin of the patient.

It is also noted that changes in the collagen composition, which leads to abnormal accumulation in the body tissue, can also make your hands stiffer.

Among other causative factors of Cherioarthropathy are, diabetic mycroangiopathy and diabetic neuropathy

Diagnosis of Cheiroarthropathy:

A typical technique for diagnosing Cheiroarthropathy is to hold your hands together, both palms touching. If the skin and joints of both the hands cannot touch each other, or in case there is a gap between the fingers and palms, then you should consult your doctor for further investigation on the condition and for better treatments.

Treatments of Cheiroarthropathy:

Though the cause of Cheiroarthropathy is unknown, but, keeping the blood sugar levels under control is recommended as a preventative method. Apart from this, the treatment includes pain reliever or anti-inflammation medicines.

Additionally, exercises that can keep your hands strong and flexible, such as throwing and catching balls, are recommended to ease the symptoms of Cheiroarthropathy. Stretching exercises can correct this diabetes complication. However, one should never force a stretch and stop immediately if any pain is felt.

Physical therapy may also be recommended by your doctor, in case your symptoms and limited joint mobility are causing you distress.


So, Cheiroarthropathy is a diabetes complication that can restrict you from moving your fingers and hands appropriately. You can take the best possible treatments from your doctor in case you suffer from this condition. Apart from this, you can also talk about the condition with your doctor if you are suffering from diabetes since long and know about the preventive measures.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 14, 2018

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