Dupuytren’s Contracture of the Hand

What is Dupuytren’s contracture?  This condition affects the layer of tissue under the skin in the palm of your hand. Over time, knots form in the tissue and eventually force one or more fingers into a bent position. The condition makes it impossible to fully straighten these fingers and can be a real hindrance to daily functioning.

Symptoms of Dupuytren’s contractureHand with curled fingers

Usually, the first sign of Dupuytren’s is a thickening of the skin on the palm. It takes years for the disease to progress, but can eventually manifest as a puckering or dimpling of the skin. Next a lump of tissue will start to develop that is sensitive to the touch. The lump is usually not painful. As the tissue continues to knot up and tighten it will begin to affect the fingers and pull them in toward the palm. The two fingers farthest from the thumb are most often affected.

Can Dupuytren’s contracture be prevented?

We don’t yet know the specific causes of Dupuytren’s contracture. Those who have a higher risk of developing the disease:

  • Use tobacco and alcohol heavily
  • Men over the age of 50
  • People of Northern European descent
  • People with diabetes
  • Have a family history of the disease

There is no indication that hand injuries or occupations involving repetitive hand movements cause this disease.

Treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture

There are a variety of treatment options ranging from minimally invasive injections to surgery to remove the affected tissue. With enzyme injections, the tight cord in your hand is weakened allowing your doctor to manipulate your fingers and break the cord holding them down. For the surgical option, the diseased tissue is removed, allowing your fingers to move freely. Both of these treatments have produced great results for our patients in many different situations with differing levels of disease severity.

When to see a doctor

If the disease is progressing slowly and does not cause pain or inhibit the daily use of your hands, you may not need treatment right away. If it is making daily life difficult, it may be time to seek some sort of treatment. Either way, it is helpful to get a professional opinion. Dr. Watson at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group has treated a number of patients with Dupuytren’s contracture. He prefers to start with a conservative approach. Surgery is not necessary for everyone and our goal is to work with patients on a plan that makes them comfortable.

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