We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Nail Clubbing?

By H. Colledge
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Nail clubbing is a finger deformity in which the end of the finger becomes swollen and the angle between the nail bed and the nail is lost. It most often occurs on the fingers of both hands and is not usually associated with pain. Nail clubbing can be a sign of heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease or lung disease, and it is also seen in a number of other conditions. It may also be referred to as drumstick fingers, Hippocratic fingers, watch-glass nails, or simply clubbing. The condition was first described by Hippocrates of ancient Greece, who is sometimes called the founder of modern medicine.

Normally, when people without nail clubbing place the ends of opposite fingers together so that the nails rest against one another, a diamond-shaped space is seen between them. In people with clubbing, the loss of the angle between the nail and its bed causes this space to disappear. This is referred to as Schamroth's window test. When the angle between the nail and its bed is more than 180 degrees, nail clubbing is definitely present. Angles approaching 180 degrees could represent an early stage of clubbing.

In a patient with nail clubbing, the nails may feel less firm than usual when pressed. This is because of an increase in the underlying soft tissue. Although the exact cause of clubbing is not understood, it is known that blood flow at the ends of the fingers is greater than usual. It is thought that this causes the tissue changes seen beneath the nail beds. Nail clubbing which occurs in association with a disease is known as secondary clubbing, and primary clubbing, which occurs without disease, is rare.

When nail clubbing is seen in association with a heart defect, the clubbing sometimes improves when the problem is corrected surgically. Clubbing is mainly associated with abnormalities of heart structure present from birth, although it is also seen in bacterial infections of the heart. Nail clubbing occurs in many respiratory diseases, and it may be present in around 29 percent of patients with lung cancer. When a patient with clubbing does not appear to show any signs of disease, doctors should investigate carefully in case there is a hidden problem such as a lung tumor. Clubbing can also affect the feet, although it may be harder to recognize due to the naturally more rounded shape of the toes.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Talentryto — On Aug 31, 2014

@rundocuri- I think that it is possible for some people to have naturally rounded fingers and not have a disease. The form of clubbing mentioned in this article refers to a condition that wasn't always present, and usually accompanies other symptoms.

Regardless, if you think your uncle has a problem, you should try to convince him to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

By Rundocuri — On Aug 31, 2014

Is it ever possible that nail clubbing can occur without a disease being present? My uncle has club-shaped fingers, but it is very difficult to convince him to go to see his doctor.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.