Woman checking her hands

Your hands could reveal potential health problems, a doctor said (Image: Getty Images)

The human body is a highly complex system. While many warning signs of problems within that system are typically linked to the affected area, this is not the case.

Therefore, symptoms of health problems can appear in unlikely places.

According to one expert the hands are an example of this, with a number of red flag signs to be wary of. Speaking on her YouTube channel, Doctor Siobhan Deshauer – an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist – revealed what to look out for.

“You know how people say that your eyes are the window into your soul, well I’d argue that your hands are the window into your health,” she said.

“Seriously I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve examined a patient’s hands and found something that helped me make the diagnosis. I want to let you in on some of these secrets and show you some simple tests that you can do on your hands at home right now that may tell you something new about your health”.

READ MORE Eye surgeon shares three signs of heart disease that can show in the eyes


Having long, slender fingers could signal a genetic condition, she warned.

To check for this, Dr Deshauer shared a couple of tests you can try at home.

“Let’s start with the thumb sign – so make a fist with your thumb inside the way we’re told never to punch and take a look,” she said.

“Does your thumb stick out the other side all the way until this joint? It doesn’t count if you push it over.

“Now try the wrist sign – so take your wrist and wrap your pinky and your thumb around it. Mine touch but do yours overlap?

“Can your thumb completely cover the pinky nail? If you can do these things you have arachnodactyly.”

Having arachnodactyly means you have spider-like fingers that are long and slender.

Dr Deshauer continued: “The first thing that I think about when someone has arachnodactyly is a genetic condition called Marfan syndrome.”

Male hands making a gesture of clasping hands in prayer

An exercise to test for diabetes involves putting your hands into prayer position (Image: Getty)

This is a disorder of the body’s connective tissues, a group of tissues that maintain the structure of the body and support internal organs and other tissues.

The reason it is worrying is because it can cause heart defects.

Dr Deshauer added that arachnodactyly is also a sign of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue.

However, she added: “Having a few hypermobile joints doesn’t mean that you have EDS, it’s actually pretty common in women to be hyper mobile, so don’t panic.”

Red palms

If you notice that your palm is red it could be a sign of palmar erythema, which can be a symptom of liver disease.

Dr Deshauer said: “It’s because the blood vessels get dilated.” However, it could also be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis or could be caused by pregnancy, she said.

Finger length

It’s not just having long fingers that could signal a problem but their length in relation to each other could tell you something about your health.

She explained: “Look at your hand and notice if your ring finger is longer or shorter than your index finger.

Woman with cold hands

Cold hands could be caused by Raynaud’s (Image: Getty)

“The length of your fingers was determined long before you were born and it has to do with the amount of testosterone you were exposed to as a foetus in the womb.

“But what does that have to do with you? Well we don’t know for sure but one study showed that men with a longer index finger and a shorter ring finger were actually less likely to develop prostate cancer and women with that same ratio longer index fingers shorter ring finger were more likely to develop breast cancer.

“The research isn’t strong enough yet to say that we should be measuring people’s finger lengths in clinic and deciding if they need extra cancer screening but rather it’s something interesting that may add to your own knowledge of your personal risk.”


Dr Deshauer also found research to suggest your fingerprint could reveal something about your blood pressure.

“People with a whirl fingerprint pattern where it looks like a circle rather than a loop are more likely to develop hypertension,” she said.

“I’ve got to say I don’t think I’ve ever looked at my fingerprint before let alone a patient’s but I just thought it was so cool that I had to share it with you.”


She shared another test to try. If you put your hands together to make a prayer sign and the fingers are unable to touch this could signal diabetes.

“It’s actually caused by sugar particles attaching to the collagen on your hand making it stiff,” Dr Deshauer said.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

To test for carpal tunnel syndrome she advised putting the backs of your hands together and relaxing your arms down.

Dr Deshauer said: “Just hold it in that position until I tell you when to stop or until you get uncomfortable.

“So with this manoeuvre we’re trying to compress the median nerve which runs down your arm through the carpal tunnel to supply sensation to your thumb and first two fingers.”

If this causes numbness or a tingling in the fingers it could be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome.


Dr Deshauer added: “Have you ever been out in the cold and your fingers went completely white then maybe even turned blue and then when you warmed up they went beet red?

“Well this is called Raynaud’s phenomenon. It’s a condition where blood vessels clamp down and spasm an exaggerated response to the cold or even emotional stress but it can be one of the first signs of a connective tissue disease like scleroderma which is a rare disease that causes thickening and hardening of the skin and even some internal organs.”

Hand joints

“Normally” a joint feels bony and you can actually feel where they connect, she said.

Dr Deshauer continued: “But if the joint is swollen it actually feels squishy, kind of like a grape; it can be painful too.”

This is a sign of inflammation, which is likely caused by arthritis.

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