Dr. always looks at fingers/hands?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia and ME & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' started by fibrobutterfly, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. Why? Is he looking for rheumatoid arthritis signs or? just curious.
  2. just found this

    What your hands reveal about your health

    I always try to shake hands when I meet a patient for the first time. I'm not just being polite - your hands are packed with information about your general health. In fact, doctors can often tell more about your health by your hands than your face.

    From skin rashes and shakiness to the shape of your fingers and the state of your nails, your hands are a trail of red hot clues.

    Handshakes and shaky hands
    An innocent hand shake can often give doctors a clue as to how anxious you are - you might have unusually hot or sweaty palms. But this can also indicate an overactive thyroid or perhaps another type of gland problem.

    GPs may not be consciously assessing your endocrine system as we greet you, but we’re likely to notice anything unusual.

    At the same time, your doctor could be alert to any bony deformities or painful areas in your hand - though he or she will try not to make you wince with their grip. People with osteoarthritis often have hard bony lumps around the joints of their fingers, especially the joint nearest the fingertips. These are called Heberden’s nodes, named after the prominent 18th century English physician William Heberden.

    It's thanks to another British physician that I might check for a particular type of tremor in your hands. James Parkinson documented the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in 1817 in his Essay on the Shaking Palsy. The tremor of Parkinson's classically has a frequency of about 4-5Hz, is worse at rest, and improves on movement.

    There are other tremors, too. An 'essential' tremor is more rapid and, if you've got warm moist palms, might get me thinking about your thyroid. On the other hand, it could be down to alcohol withdrawal if you’re alcoholic, or simply something you've inherited.

    Why is he looking at my hands?
    After a handshake and a check for any tremor, your GP may at some point later in the consultation take your hands and have a really good look at them because they contain important clues about your health and habits.

    Tobacco stains are a giveaway - you may say you're not smoking any more, but your yellow-brown fingers can betray you.

    Your hands can also tell your doctor a lot about the state of your liver. One of the classic signs of liver disease is reddening of the skin on your palms, typically the side where your little finger is, known as palmar erythema.

    A classic sign of liver disease is reddening of the skin on your palmsThere are other causes and it doesn't always mean something's wrong, but sometimes it can point your GP in the right direction.

    Another possible sign of liver disease is the spider naevus – a central capillary with several fine blood vessels running out from it, a bit like a spider's legs. They can occur anywhere on the skin but hands are a common site.

    Lots of us have the odd spider naevus, but if you have many it's worth having them checked out. People with alcoholic liver disease often have both multiple spider naevi and palmar erythema.

    Dupytren's contracture has become famous as a problem former prime minister Margaret Thatcher has developed. A thickening of the tissues in the palm of the hand slowly causes some of the fingers to bend over into the palm, forming a sort of claw. It typically affects the ring finger first.

    Doctors don't yet know why this tissue becomes thickened. It seems to run in families, but it's more common in people with cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, epilepsy and alcohol dependence.

    One of the most striking things your doctor looks for is 'clubbing'. This is where the soft tissue around the ends of your fingers and toes increases, and your fingers end up looking like matchsticks with a sort of clubbed end.

    Again, no one knows why it happens but it's associated with a range of conditions, from serious lung disease to liver cirrhosis or inflammatory bowel diseases.

    Nails and health
    Your nails can tell a fascinating story about your health - past and present.

    The reason you're asked to remove any nail varnish when you're about to have an operation is that one of the easiest ways to check how much oxygen there is in your blood is by looking at your nails - they turn from a healthy pink to a dusky blue colour if you’re low on oxygen. Nail varnish could conceal an important clue to how you are.

    Hollowed-out, spoon-shaped nails - known as koilonychia in the trade - can be normal in children and they grow out of it, but sometimes it can be a sign of iron deficiency.

    Pitting of the nails - tiny depressions in the nail plate - is classically seen in psoriasis. But you can also get it in a variety of other strange-sounding diseases such as sarcoidosis and pemphigus.

    Splinter haemorrhages are long, thin, vertical red or brown lines beneath the nail. They're caused by blood leaking from capillaries, often after the nail's been damaged, or because of psoriasis or a fungal infection.

    They can sometimes be a sign of something called bacterial endocarditis - a serious infection of the heart valves.

    Horizontal lines (depressions) across the nails, called Beau’s lines, can provide a fascinating history of trauma or illness. They rarely represent anything serious, but they're caused by any disease severe enough to disrupt nail growth.

    Knowing that nails grow at a rate of 1mm every six to ten days, you can estimate the timing of the disease by measuring the distance from the line to the nail bed.

    Children and healthy adults commonly have one or more white lines or spots on one or more nails. These can appear in different places on different nails, they don’t span the nail and are nothing to worry about. They’re thought to be due to random trauma to the nail bed.

    All of which explains why your GP might take a close look at your hands.

  3. JD99

    JD99 New Member

    Mine always checks for arthritis but that's because I have problems with my right hand. I think they always check coloration, too. Mine change colors if it's hot or cold.

    I didn't realize it was something all doctors do for every one of us.
  4. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    My Cardiologist noticed right away that I have several Beau lines in both thumbs. He'd never heard of FMS, but after he saw that, he believed that I was really ill. Sadly, he is the only one of the doctors I've seen who looked at my hands.

    klutzo
  5. sixtyslady

    sixtyslady New Member

    what does it mean when your finger nails grow under at the tips ? this has just happened to me in the last 2 yrs. thanks sixtyslady
  6. acer2000

    acer2000 New Member

    I am surprised they forgot to mention mees lines:

    Causes

    They appear after an episode of poisoning with arsenic, thallium or other heavy metals.
    They can also appear if the subject is suffering from renal failure.

    Presentation

    They are typically white bands traversing the width of the nail. As the nail grows they move towards the end, and finally disappear when trimmed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mees'_lines
  7. ChyC

    ChyC New Member

    Cracked, splits easily, lines and need to keep my nails short or the little fingers can get infected easy. Every finger nail on both hands are just a mess.

    I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis back around 1992.

    Chy
  8. ChyC

    ChyC New Member

    I will check my Greens+ to see if that vit. is in it. I can't much of the Greens+ but it dies help me with my health overall. My sensitivies are less intense and found out that there is something included in the Greens+ that helps with that. I don't think that it's helping my nails.

    Chy
  9. sadie101

    sadie101 New Member

    I went to see a doctor and the first thing he did was look at my hands for a long time and study them. he told me I have thick skin on my hands. what does thick skin on your hands mean? I do have a lot of pain,swelling and weakness in my hands.

    sadie