My Special Thumbs


"Oh my god, what happened?


I've grown accustomed to these reactions after people see my hands (more specifically, my thumbs) for the first time.

Yes, it's true - I have clubbed thumbs.

I didn't realize I had strange thumbs until I was in third grade when a student asked me why my thumbs stopped growing. Another kid then asked if my thumbs got smashed by a hammer. This was quite a normal occurrence during lunch as a group of kids would usually gasp, laugh, and raise my hand (with just my thumbs up) for inspection.

To provide some context...

Most people have a straight, upright thumb, with a nail bed equal to or longer than the nails on their fingers. Some people have a “hitchhiker's thumb” where the tip can bend back almost 90 degrees. For me, I have a shortened thumb, a feature commonly known as clubbed thumb, stub thumb, toe thumb, potter's thumb, hammer thumb and most unappealingly, murderer’s thumb. Fortunately, the thumb has been given a scientific name of Brachydactyly type D, so henceforth we shall stick with the designation BDD.

So what is Brachydactyly D?

In the scientific circle, the medical term Brachydactyly Type D, or BDD for short, is an inherited condition in which "the end bones of the thumbs are shortened but all the fingers are normal," according to HealthLine. There are no dire complications related to BDD — at least not medical ones. In addition to our thumbs being pretty stumpy, those of us who have clubbed thumbs also have wider-than-average, shorter-than-average thumbnails, and they have no backward arch to them.

Historically, the clubbed thumb has been associated with inbreeding amongst European royalty. It’s been thought to be a sign of pure royal blood. All I know is my East Asian thumbs have no part of this European royalty.

Additionally, the murderer's thumb came about in the 19th century when European and American scientists categorized people and branded the BDD thumb as a primitive disposition to impulsive and unsophisticated thinking. Often times, popular detective novels scattered their stories of suspects with BDD to hint at criminal inclinations. That's right everyone, I've got two thumbs and I'm not afraid to use them. You've been warned.


It turns out I'm one of the lucky 3% of Americans whose thumbs are affected by BDD.


But anyone who's lived with these quirky digits — and there are an estimated 1 to 2 million of us in the U.S. alone — know that there are plenty of "side effects" that come with them.

Here are 15 things that only people with clubbed thumbs can relate to:

1. I often get asked "What happened to your thumbs?"

2. Everyone asks if they can compare my thumb to theirs

3. Texting is definitely much more challenging without autocorrect

4. No one wants to play me in thumb war

5. I get really excited when I meet a fellow toe thumb buddy

6. Gloves NEVER fit right

7. It's the perfect size for babies to hold onto

8. My bowling ball thumb hole is one a kind

9. I've mentioned multiple times I have the same thumbs as Megan Fox

10. It takes the focus off of whatever I'm holding in a picture

11. Some instruments are more difficult to play than others

12. Any setting can change with a special appearance of my clubbed thumbs

13. Two THUMBS UP doesn't have the same effect

14. Everyday things turn out to be a struggle

15. But I'm still grateful and proud of my thumbs


Special shoutout to my OG club thumb (my grandma) for passing it onto me. I am excited to see which one of my lucky grandkids will have my BDD thumbs and the stories that will be waiting for them.



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