What causes enlarged hands and feet and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Enlarged hands and feet can be a cause for concern, as they may indicate an underlying medical condition. In this article, we will explore the causes of enlarged hands and feet, including conditions such as gigantism and acromegaly. We will also discuss the available treatment options for individuals experiencing abnormal hand and foot size.

What is Gigantism?

Gigantism is a rare condition that occurs when the body produces an excess amount of growth hormone during childhood and adolescence. This excess hormone stimulates the growth plates in the long bones, leading to an abnormal increase in height and overall body size. One of the noticeable effects of gigantism is the enlargement of the hands and feet.

Causes of Gigantism

Gigantism is typically caused by a noncancerous tumor called an adenoma in the pituitary gland. This tumor triggers the excessive production of growth hormone. In some cases, gigantism can also be caused by genetic mutations or hereditary factors.

Treatment for Gigantism

The treatment for gigantism aims to reduce the production of growth hormone and manage the symptoms associated with the condition. The most common approach is surgical removal of the pituitary tumor. In some cases, radiation therapy or medication may be used to control the production of growth hormone.

What is Acromegaly?

Acromegaly is a condition that occurs when the body continues to produce an excess amount of growth hormone in adulthood. Unlike gigantism, where the excessive growth occurs during childhood, acromegaly leads to the enlargement of the hands and feet in adulthood.

Causes of Acromegaly

Acromegaly is primarily caused by a benign tumor in the pituitary gland, similar to gigantism. This tumor stimulates the production of growth hormone, resulting in the enlargement of various body parts, including the hands and feet.

Treatment for Acromegaly

The treatment for acromegaly focuses on reducing the production of growth hormone and managing the symptoms. Surgery to remove the pituitary tumor is often the first-line treatment. In cases where surgery is not possible or unsuccessful, medication or radiation therapy may be recommended.

Other Causes of Enlarged Hands and Feet

While gigantism and acromegaly are the most common causes of enlarged hands and feet, there are other factors that can contribute to abnormal hand and foot size. These include:

  • Genetic factors: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to larger hands and feet.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can put pressure on the feet, causing them to appear larger.
  • Edema: Swelling due to fluid retention can temporarily enlarge the hands and feet.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Certain hormonal disorders can lead to changes in hand and foot size.

Treatment Options for Enlarged Hands and Feet

The treatment for enlarged hands and feet depends on the underlying cause. If the enlargement is due to gigantism or acromegaly, the primary focus will be on managing the underlying condition through surgery, medication, or radiation therapy.

For individuals with genetic factors contributing to larger hands and feet, there may not be a specific treatment available. However, it is important to ensure proper foot support and wear appropriate shoe sizes to prevent discomfort and potential foot problems.

In cases where obesity is a contributing factor, weight loss through a combination of diet and exercise can help reduce the size of the hands and feet. This can also alleviate pressure on the feet and improve overall health.

If the enlargement is due to edema, addressing the underlying cause of fluid retention, such as kidney or heart problems, can help reduce the swelling in the hands and feet.


Enlarged hands and feet can be a symptom of various underlying conditions, including gigantism, acromegaly, genetic factors, obesity, edema, and hormonal imbalances. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Managing the underlying condition, if possible, can help alleviate the symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

Remember, early detection and intervention are crucial in addressing any potential health concerns. If you notice abnormal hand and foot size, seek medical advice to determine the cause and explore the available treatment options.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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