Hitchhiker thumb deformity

Dr Dan J Bell and Dr Aditya Shetty et al.

Hitchhiker thumb deformity refers to:

  • flexion of the metacarpophalangeal joint and
  • extension of the distal interphalangeal joint of the thumb

It is used to both describe the appearance of the thumb on physical examination and also the corresponding radiographic appearance. It is similar to how a person would normally angulate and hold out the thumb with the intention to hitchhike. It is one of the musculoskeletal manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis in the hand although not entirely specific for this diagnosis.

The sign is also used in obstetric ultrasound and on paediatric radiographs to describe the appearance of the fingers in diatrophic dysplasia.

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Article information

rID: 28019
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Hitchhiker's thumb
  • Hitchhiker's thumbs
  • Hitchhiker thumbs

Cases and figures

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