Achenbach syndrome is a condition that causes repeated bruising, pain, and swelling in the fingers. Some doctors refer to it as paroxysmal finger hematoma.

The exact cause is not always clear, but it may occur after minor injury in some cases.

Achenbach syndrome does not usually lead to serious complications, and various treatments may help manage or reduce symptoms.

Read on to learn about the symptoms of Achenbach syndrome. This article also discusses causes, diagnosis, treatment options, and more.

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Symptoms of Achenbach syndrome can include:

  • pain
  • bluish or purplish bruises or skin discoloration, usually minutes or hours after the pain begins
  • swelling
  • itching
  • burning
  • numbness
  • restricted movement

These symptoms often develop on the palm of a person’s dominant hand, most commonly the second or third finger.

However, symptoms may develop on any finger or toe. They do not generally affect the fingertips or nail bed.

Discoloration can resolve after anywhere from 2 to 14 days.

Learn about random bruising.

The underlying cause of Achenbach syndrome is often unclear.

According to DermNet, minor trauma is responsible for about 30% of Achenbach syndrome cases. This can happen after performing certain hand-based tasks, such as:

  • sweeping the floor
  • washing clothing by hand
  • applying pressure when cycling

A possible explanation might involve fragile blood vessels in the fingers causing bruising after a minor hand injury. However, more research is necessary.

Learn more about what can cause pain in the palms of the hands.

Many people with Achenbach syndrome cannot identify a trigger.

However, a 2024 paper suggests that some people report Achenbach symptoms after a history of minor injury when performing tasks with the hands.

If a person notices symptoms of Achenbach syndrome, it is best to write down any recent activities they did. Skin discoloration can take hours to occur.

Diagnosing Achenbach syndrome typically involves taking a person’s medical history, asking about symptoms, and performing a physical examination.

It does not lead to unusual results in blood vessel imaging scans or laboratory tests, so these are not helpful for diagnosing Achenbach syndrome.

However, a doctor may request further testing if they suspect that the bruising is due to other conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as:

Blood tests and blood vessel scans can help to rule these out.

Achenbach syndrome generally resolves with no treatment within 1 week, with discoloration resolving within around 2 weeks.

No specific treatment is available for the condition. However, people can help soothe the pain and discomfort by:

  • identifying and avoiding possible triggers, such as intensive housework
  • taking over-the-counter pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen
  • elevating the hand or foot to reduce swelling

A person should avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, to manage Achenbach syndrome pain and swelling.

According to a 2024 article, Achenbach syndrome is much more common in women than men. It typically develops at about the age of 50 years.

However, anyone can develop Achenbach syndrome.

If a person notices bruising on the hand, particularly if it is painful or does not improve after a few days, it is important to contact a doctor.

Even though Achenbach syndrome does not lead to severe complications, receiving an accurate diagnosis is important for ruling out more serious conditions and providing reassurance.

Here are some more common questions about Achenbach syndrome.

What vitamin deficiency causes Achenbach syndrome?

There is no evidence that a vitamin deficiency can cause Achenbach syndrome. However, vitamin C deficiency may cause similar symptoms. If a person has concerns about symptoms, it is important to contact a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Is Achenbach syndrome associated with other conditions?

No identifiable condition has a link with Achenbach syndrome. In many cases, the underlying cause is unclear. In some cases, it may happen following minor injury to the skin.

Is there a link between Achenbach syndrome and stress?

Stress is not a known trigger of Achenbach syndrome. However, if a person notices that they develop symptoms during times of increased stress, it is important to mention this to a doctor.

Is there a link between Achenbach syndrome and COVID-19?

Some case reports have detailed rare occurrences of Achenbach syndrome after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Is Achenbach syndrome dangerous?

Doctors do not consider Achenbach syndrome to be a dangerous condition, as it does not cause severe or life threatening complications.

Is Achenbach syndrome an autoimmune condition?

Research has not linked Achenbach syndrome to immune system function. Lab studies of people with Achenbach syndrome do not show any abnormal antibodies, which would indicate an issue with the immune system.

Achenbach syndrome causes bruising and painful swelling, often in the second or third finger of a person’s dominant hand.

The exact cause of Achenbach syndrome is often unclear, but it may develop in response to minor skin injury.

Rest and pain relief medications can help reduce discomfort until symptoms pass. They will usually resolve on their own within around 1 week, though discoloration can last up to 2 weeks.

It is best to contact a doctor if a person has concerns about the symptoms of Achenbach syndrome. The doctor may order tests to rule out other possible causes.