Dupuytren’s Contracture

Description

Dupuytren’s contracture is an abnormal thickening of tough tissue in the palm and fingers that can cause the fingers to curl. It is more common in men than in women and becomes more common as we grow older.

Risk Factors/Prevention

The cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is not known. It is not caused by an injury. It is not a cancer.

  • Dupuytren’s contracture is most common in people of Northern European or Scandinavian ancestry.
  • It is associated with smoking and drinking.
  • It is also associated with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems and seizures.

Symptoms

Dupuytren’s contracture usually occurs very gradually. It may begin as a small tender lump in the palm. Over time the pain usually goes away, but tough bands may form that cause the fingers to bend toward the palm. The ring and small fingers are most commonly affected.

Treatment Options

There is no way to stop or cure the problem. It is not dangerous. Dupuytren’s contracture usually progresses very slowly and may not be troublesome for years. If a painful lump is present, an injection may help diminish the pain. If the fingers become bent, they may interfere with use of your hand. Surgery is recommended when inability to straighten the fingers significantly limits your hand function.

Treatment Options: Surgical

Surgery for Dupuytren’s contracture divides or removes the thickened bands to help restore finger motion. Sometimes the wound is left open and allowed to heal gradually. Skin grafting may sometimes be needed. Risks of surgery include injury to nerves and blood vessels and infection. Some swelling and soreness are expected but severe problems are rare. Elevating your hand after surgery and gently moving the fingers helps minimize pain, swelling and stiffness. A physical therapist may be helpful during your recovery after surgery. Most people will have improved motion in the fingers after surgery.

Surgery does not cure the disease, which tends to progress gradually and recur over time.

Research on the Horizon/What’s New

Experiments are being performed with enzyme injections that may be able to break down the tough bands and improve motion without surgery. Early results are promising, but these injections are not available for general use at this time.

 

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