Dupuytrens contracture is a thickening and shortening of the fascia in the palm of the hand. The fascia is a firm tissue that lies just below the skin. This condition causes affected fingers to curl towards the palm and makes extension of these fingers difficult or impossible.
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The exact cause of Dupuytrens contracture is unknown. For some people, the condition is inherited.
This condition is more common in men and those over 40 years of age.
Factors that may increase your chances of getting Dupuytrens contracture include:
- A parent with Dupuytrens contracture
- Hand trauma
- Manual labor
- Vibration exposure at work
Alcohol use disorder
- Use of certain anticonvulsant medications for epilepsy
- Liver disease
At first, symptoms of finger curling are mild, but they may worsen over time. The rate of progression varies among people.
The ring finger is usually affected first, followed by the little finger, then the index, and long finger. Fingers on either or both hands can be affected. The first physical sign of this condition is a nodule in the palm near the base of a finger. A nodule is a small thickening of the fascia under the skin. In some cases, nodules can be sensitive to touch. Generally, though, this condition is not painful.
As a contracture progresses, the nodule becomes a thickened fibrous cord that extends into the finger under the skin. As the cord thickens and shortens, the affected finger is pulled (curled) in towards the palm. It becomes difficult or impossible to extend the finger.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A hand examination will be done.
Images may be taken of your hand. This can be done with:
No treatment is necessary when symptoms are mild and do not effect normal use of the hand. In other cases, treatment may include:
Surgery is most effective when the condition is still in the nodule stage.
Depending on how far the condition has progressed, surgery may involve:
- Making small incisions in the thickened tissue
- Removing diseased tissue
- Removing diseased tissue and overlying damaged skin, and then repairing resulting gaps in skin with skin grafts
- Percutaneous needle fasciotomy
Dupuytrens contracture can recur after surgery.
Exercise Therapy After Surgery
This is usually needed to restore full range of motion and use of the repaired finger(s).
Injecting corticosteroids into nodules during early stages of the condition can sometimes:
- Delay the progressive worsening of the condition
- Ease any tenderness that may be present in the nodules
Another medication that can be injected is called collagenase clostridium histolyticum. This biologic drug breaks down the thickened tissue in the hand.
There are no guidelines to prevent Dupuytrens contracture. Its cause is unknown. However, treatment is made easier and more effective with early detection.
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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