Some people with restricted growth (dwarfism) have health problems. But for many, the only sign is short height.
Proportionate short stature
People with proportionate short stature (PSS) grow very slowly and have a general lack of growth throughout the body. The body, legs and arms are all shorter than normal.
PSS may not be noticeable until later in childhood or puberty.
Any other symptoms the person has will depend on the underlying cause of PSS.
Disproportionate short stature
In people with disproportionate short stature (DSS), the arms and legs are particularly short.
People with achondroplasia, one of the most common causes of DSS, typically have:
- a normal-length body with short arms and legs
- a large head with a prominent forehead and flat nasal bridge
- short and wide hands and feet
- short fingers and toes
Some people with achondroplasia also have:
- bowed legs, which may cause ankle or knee pain
- an abnormally curved spine (kyphosis) or (scoliosis)
- a build-up of fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus)
- repeated ear infections, which can cause hearing difficulties
- irregular breathing at night (sleep apnoea), which can interrupt sleep and cause excessive sleepiness during the day
- numbness and weakness in the legs, caused by compression of the nerves in the spine
Page last reviewed: 30 March 2021
Next review due: 30 March 2024