Drumstick Fingers

By | June 10, 2022

Many physical diseases are associated with externally visible changes in the natural anatomical structure of the skin, bones or soft tissue. This also applies to the so-called drumstick fingers (also drumstick fingers), which are caused by a special blood disease.

What is a drumstick finger?

The drumstick fingers are a clear indication of a disease group that is associated with chronic hypoxemia. These diseases are characterized by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the blood. As a result, thickenings form on the end joints of the fingers, which not only include the bones, but also various soft tissue parts. For introduction to asperger syndrome, please visit sciencedict.com.

In medical professions, the drumstick fingers are also referred to as digitus hippocraticus or, colloquially, as piston fingers. In most causative diseases against the conspicuous drumstick fingers accompanied by so-called watch glass fingernails.


The causes of the distended drumstick fingers are currently clearly proven. Hypoxemia is inherent in all these diseases. These diseases affect either the lungs or the heart and contribute to drumstick fingers.

Emphysema of the lungs, tumors of the bronchi, a chronic, obstructive disease of the lungs, and acute interstitial pneumonia are responsible for an undersupply of oxygen in the blood and tissues, so that the drumstick fingers form.

The heart is also involved in supplying oxygen to the body. A congenital heart defect with a reduction in the pumping capacity of the heart muscle, high blood pressure caused by the pulmonary system and endocarditis can also result in drumstick fingers.

Disorders of the digestive system such as a loss of liver function, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease equally require the drumstick fingers. Drumstick fingers can also occur with cystic fibrosis.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Drumstick fingers are characterized by a typical appearance. The main symptoms are swollen fingers. The soft tissue changes are mainly due to newly formed capillaries. Drumstick fingers do not cause any discomfort, are therefore painless and do not impede the movement of the fingers.

Numbness can occasionally occur, but this is more likely to be due to causative diseases. The fingers appear noticeably thick, which means that the symptom quickly becomes apparent to those affected. Sometimes the fingers are bluish or appear puffy and pink. Drumstick fingers are particularly often associated with the so-called watch glass nails.

The changes in the fingers are themselves a symptom of various diseases. In almost all cases, they are triggered by a lack of oxygen in the tissue, which in turn can be traced back to lung or heart disease. In rare cases, the drumstick fingers only appear on one side, which can be due to an aneurysm, inflammation or certain types of tumors.

The other symptoms of drumstick fingers depend on the underlying diseases. They include, for example, breathing problems, cardiac arrhythmia, general weakness, circulatory problems and muscle weakness. The so-called butt fingers are generally considered to be an easily recognizable and serious symptom. They almost always have a serious underlying cause that requires treatment.

Diagnosis & History

If drumstick fingers become visible, extensive diagnostics are required if the anamnesis does not provide sufficiently well-founded knowledge. The diagnosis of drumstick fingers refers to the determination of special laboratory values ​​​​of the blood and serum, X-rays, an echocardiography, the control of the lung function, an examination of the bronchi, a so-called sputum diagnosis and the examination of the digestive tract.

It is characteristic of the course or pathogenesis of the drumstick fingers that the lack of oxygen in the blood and thus in the tissue leads to a physical reaction which leads to the thickened end phalanges of the drumstick fingers. The lack of oxygen contributes to an increase in bone volume in the fingers. This is intensified by an additional swelling on the drumstick fingers.

The fingertips are areas where the tissue is under constant stress. In order to be able to correspond to this, additional bone tissue builds up, which is represented by the strange-looking drumstick fingers. Another explanation of how drumstick fingers develop is based on the fact that hypoxia stimulates the production of a special growth substance. This substance contributes to accelerating the formation of new capillaries in order to achieve better oxygen supply to the tissue.

The drumstick fingers are thus created by more capillaries and an increase in collagenous connective tissue at the fingertips. Due to these processes, the finger joints thicken and the watch glass nails can also develop as accompanying symptoms of the diseases presented. Drumstick fingers are usually associated with cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes).

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of drumstick fingers, a doctor should always be consulted. Even if the symptoms may not lead to restrictions in everyday life for the patient, they usually always point to diseases of the heart or lungs and must therefore be examined and treated in any case. If the drumstick fingers are not treated, the patient can die of heart problems or lung problems in the worst case.

Therefore, with permanent swelling of the fingers, which occurs without any particular reason, it is always necessary to consult a doctor. Blue discoloration of the fingers or extremities can also indicate problems with the heart or lungs. These symptoms must be evaluated immediately by a medical professional. If there is shortness of breath or a stabbing pain in the chest, the person concerned must call an ambulance or go directly to the hospital. Shortness of breath or a heart attack can also lead to unconsciousness. In the worst case, the drumstick fingers or the underlying disease can lead to the death of the patient.


Because of the drumstick fingers, those affected suffer from a number of different ailments. In most cases, the fingers themselves are significantly enlarged and swollen, resulting in reduced aesthetics in the first place.

Many patients feel uncomfortable with it and suffer from reduced self-esteem or inferiority complexes. Furthermore, the entire hand can also be thickened, so that there can be significant limitations in normal everyday activities. The drumstick fingers usually occur in connection with problems with the heart or the circulatory system, so that the patients always have to be examined.

In the worst case, heart problems go undetected, resulting in the death of the patient. Pain in the drumstick fingers is also not uncommon and has a negative effect on the patient’s everyday life and quality of life. Treatment of this disease is carried out depending on the underlying disease.

For this reason, no general prediction can be given about the further course. With a successful treatment of the underlying disease, however, the drumstick fingers are also cured. The patient’s life expectancy may also be reduced.

Treatment & Therapy

On the subject of treating the drumstick fingers, there is only the indication that the previous illnesses must be recognized and treated. If this leads to a better supply of oxygen to the tissues, the drumstick fingers go away by themselves. Treating drumstick fingers requires a quick diagnosis and prompt and efficient treatment of the lungs, heart, liver, stomach or Crohn’s disease.


To prevent drumstick fingers, the underlying conditions must be avoided. The patients cannot directly influence the prophylaxis.

A form of prevention that does not directly affect the development of drumstick fingers is an influenza vaccination. In addition, given the likelihood of developing drumstick fingers and watch glass nails, nicotine consumption should be avoided.

The oxygen distribution in the blood, which is already limited by existing diseases, must not be additionally strained by nicotine. This can prevent drumstick fingers from forming.


Drumstick fingers return to their normal finger shape as soon as the causative symptoms are treated. The process takes several weeks to months, depending on the severity of the cause. Such causes are always an organic disease. After successful therapy, regular checks prevent the symptoms from reoccurring.

During the basic therapy, the attending physician sets periods for the control. Bronchoscopies, echokariographies and other examinations are repeated about every three months, and every six months in the case of milder symptoms. This is the only way to prevent a recurrence, including the other symptoms, or to eliminate them in good time. If drumstick fingers appear again, quick action is important.

A flare-up of old complaints leads to a recurrence of the symptoms. Regular aftercare for drumstick fingers requires discipline. However, the possible causes of this adherence to schedules are worth every effort. After all, the change in hands portends far-reaching health problems. Only with medical help can the causes be clarified and symptoms eliminated.

In the long term, following a doctor-prescribed diet and nutritional plan will help prevent drumstick fingers from developing again. Mostly cancerous changes lead to these phenomena. Those affected still ask for an examination of intestinal problems. Such can be a consequence of previously treated complaints in the follow-up care.

You can do that yourself

In the case of drumstick fingers, it is a phenomenon that reduces the percentage of oxygen in the blood. This causes the fingers and often the fingernails (watch glass fingernails) to become deformed.

The disease underlying the drumstick fingers must be found and treated, otherwise it can lead to the death of the patient. Those affected should therefore see their family doctor or an internist as soon as possible. If the underlying disease is cured or at least alleviated, the drumstick fingers symptom also improves.

The drumstick fingers may be causing pain. Nocturnal pain gel applications have proven effective in treating them. To do this, those affected apply a cream containing ibuprofen or diclofenac to their fingers in the evening and first put on plastic gloves and then normal finger gloves. With the resulting heat, the pain-relieving active ingredient in the ointment or cream can penetrate deeply and relieve the pain.

If the patient suffers from the changed appearance of his hands or the reduced quality of life due to the underlying disease, psychotherapeutic intervention or – depending on the need – long-term psychological support is recommended. Joining a self-help group can also help those affected. At the same time, the patients should do sports according to their possibilities. This also includes going for walks, because outdoor exercise activates the body’s own immune system and thus helps the body to help itself.

Drumstick Fingers