What is dactylitis?
Dactylitis is inflammation of a digit (either finger or toe) and is derived from the Greek word
finger. The affected fingers and/or toes swell up into a sausage shape and can become painful.
What causes dactylitis?
Although any inflammatory process involving the fingers or toes may be called dactylitis, the term has been used to describe some well defined disease entities where swelling of the digits is an obvious symptom.
|Type of dactylitis||Notes|
|Sickle-cell dactylitis (also known as hand-foot syndrome)||
|Blistering distal dactylitis|
What are the signs and symptoms?
In children with sickle-cell disease, the first sign is usually quite sudden and is characterised by painful swelling of the hands, feet, or both. The child refuses to bear weight and has puffy, tender and warm fingers and/or toes. This is often accompanied by fever, raised white cell count and mild anaemia.
The clinical symptoms in sickle-cell dactylitis are self-limiting. Swelling and pain usually subsides spontaneously without any medical or surgical treatment. The duration of symptoms may range from several days to a month. It rarely causes permanent damage but in some cases may result in shortening of the fingers as a result of premature fusion of the epiphyseal plates.
In other types of dactylitis, treating the cause is the main form of therapy. Dactylitis caused from infectious agents can be treated with appropriate antibiotics.
- Brockbank JE, Stein M, Schentag CT, et al. Dactylitis in psoriatic arthritis: a marker for disease severity? Ann Rheum Dis 2005; 64(2): 188-90
- Jadavji T, Prober CG. Dactylitis in a child with sickle cell trait. Can Med Assoc J 1985; 132: 814-815
- Olivieri E, Scarano A, Padula V, et al. Dactylitis, a term for different digit diseases. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology 2006; 35(5): 333-340
- Worrall VT, Butera V. Sickle-Cell Dactylitis. J Bone Joint Surg (Am) 1976; 58:1161-1163
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