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Clubbing of the fingers or toes

  • Definition
    • Clubbing is changes in the areas under and around the toenails and fingernails that occur with some disorders. The nails also show changes.

  • Alternative Names
    • Clubbing

  • Considerations
    • Common symptoms of clubbing:

      • The nail beds soften. The nails may seem to "float" instead of being firmly attached.
      • The nails forms a sharper angle with the cuticle.
      • The last part of the finger may appear large or bulging. It may also be warm and red.
      • The nail curves downward so it looks like the round part of an upside-down spoon.

      Clubbing can develop quickly, often within weeks. It also can go away quickly when its cause is treated.

  • Causes
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • If you notice clubbing, call your health care provider.

  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit
    • A person with clubbing often has symptoms of another condition. Diagnosing that condition is based on:

      • Family history
      • Medical history
      • Physical exam that looks at the lungs and chest

      The provider may ask questions such as:

      • Do you have any trouble breathing?
      • Do you have clubbing of the fingers, toes, or both?
      • When did you first notice this? Do you think it is getting worse?
      • Does the skin ever have a blue color?
      • What other symptoms do you have?

      The following tests may be done:

      There is no treatment for the clubbing itself. The cause of clubbing can be treated, however.

  • References
    • Davis JL, Murray JF. History and physical examinations. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst MD, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 16.