Dupuytren’s contracture is a progressive hand condition that causes the fingers of the affected hand to turn in toward the palm. Tissue in your palm thickens into a tight cord that prevents you straightening at least one of your fingers, and this can reduce the function of the affected hand. For example, sufferers may find it difficult to open a door, use a can opener or grip an object. It’s not yet understood why some people develop this condition, and it’s not linked to overuse of the hand. Men seem to be more susceptible to developing Dupuytren’s contracture than women, which may indicate hormones play a role in the development of this condition. Here’s an overview of the symptoms and treatment options for Dupuytren’s contracture:
Dupuytren’s contracture doesn’t tend to be painful, but there are some symptoms that can appear before your fingers start to turn inward. The skin on the palm of your hand will thicken and small dimples may appear. Additionally, you may feel a hard lump of tissue just under the skin on your palm at the base of your fingers. This lump is the beginning of the tissue forming into a cord, which will cause the muscles in your hand to contract.
Dupuytren’s contracture can be diagnosed with a physical examination, and your doctor will recommend a treatment approach based on the severity of the condition and location of the thickened tissue. The aim of treatment is to break the thick cords of tissue that have formed, which will allow your fingers to move freely. Here’s an overview of three treatment approaches:
Needling – Inserting needles into the cords can break down the tissue, but recurrence of the condition is possible. Needling can’t be carried out on certain parts of your hands due to the risk of nerve damage.
Enzyme Injections – Certain enzymes can be injected into the affected tissue, and this treatment works by weakening the cord over a period of several weeks until it eventually breaks. It has similar restrictions as needling does.
Surgery – A longer-lasting solution can be found by surgically removing the cord, which will free your fingers. Physiotherapy will be required after surgery to help you build muscle tone in your hand and improve the function of the affected fingers.
Dupuytren’s contracture won’t resolve on its own, so if you spot any of the symptoms associated with this condition, see your doctor as soon as possible.