Introducing Dupuytren’s Contracture

Dupuytren’s contracture is a hand deformity where the joints of the fingers are affected due to thickened skin formation. In this condition, the finger cannot be fully extended and there is restricted movement. The most commonly affected fingers are the ring and pinky fingers. This condition can happen at any time, either in childhood or after age 50.

Nature or nurture?

The cause is unknown, but genetics may play a role in this medical condition. However, there are risk factors to consider, such as older age, males, smoking, alcohol, diabetes, and medications for seizures. This disease impacts more men than women. Other medical disorders that may pose a risk include high cholesterol, liver disease, thyroid issues, and previous hand injury.

Getting diagnosed

Once the doctor takes a full medical history, the patient will perform some physical tests on the affected hand. The healthcare provider will check for strength, grip, and range of movements. There is also a tool used to check the measurements of the contracture. During each visit, the measurements are taken for later comparisons. The comparisons will give the doctor an idea if the condition is stable or worsening.

How you feel with Dupuytren’s contracture

The signs and symptoms of this condition are classified into early and late stages. The signs progress gradually over the years. The early signs include thickened skin of the palm and the formation of some tender nodules. The later signs include tightening and shortening of the tissues of the palm leading fingers with the inability to extend. One is unable to use the hand well.

When to perform surgery

The healthcare provider will recommend the best treatment for each case. The treatment choices include steroid injection, enzyme injection, needling, radiation therapy, and surgery. If there is limited use of the hand or daily life is affected, then surgery is recommended. During surgery, the surgeon will remove the thickened tissue resulting in the mobility of the fingers. Post-surgery, physical therapy is usually advised.

The possible risks or complications

With Dupuytren’s contracture, the one downside cannot do certain tasks. With surgical treatment, the risks include infection and nerve damage. Sometimes, some patients may require another surgery if the contracture reappears. Speaking to the healthcare provider is essential when considering any treatment, keeping in mind the risks.