Everything You Need to Know About Achenbach Syndrome

Medically Reviewed By Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
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Achenbach syndrome is a rare and benign condition wherein sudden bruising appears on one or more of the fingers. The exact causes are unknown, and it tends to resolve on its own. Achenbach syndrome, also known as “paroxysmal finger hematoma” and “blue finger,” causes spontaneous bruising on one or more of the fingers.

Only around 100 cases of this medical condition have been reported since Achenbach syndrome was first identified in 1958.

The exact causes of Achenbach syndrome are still largely unknown.

This article covers what Achenbach syndrome is and explores its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is Achenbach syndrome?

Hands gardening
Harald Walker/Stocksy United

Achenbach syndrome is a rare and benign condition in which sudden and unexplained bruising appears on one or more of the fingers.

Unlike most bruises, these characteristically blue bruises appear for no known reason.

The condition seems to occur more often in middle-aged females than in any other group.

It more commonly affects the right index finger and does not generally involve the fingertips or nail beds.

Achenbach syndrome typically resolves by itself, but relapses may occur.

What are the symptoms of Achenbach syndrome?

The primary symptom of Achenbach syndrome is “blue finger,” which refers to a bruised finger with no known cause.

People with Achenbach syndrome often report to their doctor with significant bluish bruising and swelling in one or more of the fingers that cannot be explained.

Additional symptoms may include

Learn about other reasons for hand swelling here.

What are the causes of Achenbach syndrome?

Typically, fingers bruise due to trauma. However, with Achenbach syndrome, the bruising appears to be completely spontaneous.

The exact causes of Achenbach syndrome are not yet known. However, the symptoms are sometimes a result of everyday activities.

Some doctors believe that people with Achenbach syndrome may have more fragile blood vessels than others.

Learn more about easy bruising here.

What are the treatments for Achenbach syndrome?

There is no treatment for Achenbach syndrome. The symptoms typically clear up on their own within a few days, but they can last up to a few months.

Some general measures that can help alleviate the symptoms include:

  • taking pain relief medication
  • elevating the area
  • cooling the area
  • seeking reassurance

Before confirming an Achenbach syndrome diagnosis, your doctor will rule out other potential causes, such as:

  • acute limb ischemia
  • Buerger’s disease
  • vasculitis
  • trauma
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Gardner-Diamond syndrome

Learn more about bruises and hematomas here.

What are the outcomes of Achenbach syndrome?

Achenbach syndrome is a self-limiting condition. This means that the symptoms typically clear up on their own.

There is a strong possibility of symptom recurrence for those who have Achenbach syndrome. On average, these recurrences happen around 1.2 times per year.

The important thing to remember is although the onset of Achenbach syndrome might be alarming, the condition is benign.

If you have concerns about any of the symptoms or the frequency of your recurrences, speak with your doctor.

Summary

Achenbach syndrome is a rare, benign, and self-limiting condition. The main symptom is spontaneous bruising on one or more of the fingers.

Due to the self-limiting nature of Achenbach syndrome, there is no set treatment for it. Your doctor may recommend general measures to make the area more comfortable, but symptoms typically clear up within a few days of onset. That said, recurrence of Achenbach syndrome is to be expected.

If you have any concerns about the condition or its symptoms, speak with your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 8
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