What is Dupuytren’s
Suffering from stiff and painful fingers that don’t move the way you want them to is a common complaint. If you find yourself saying, I can’t straighten my fingers – Dupuytren’s (dew-pa-trans) Contracture may be the cause. This condition causes your ring and little finger to curl in towards your palm and the tissues under your skin to harden and form bumps or knots. As the tissues get tighter and shorter, they draw the fingers down and prevent you from being able to straighten them.
Dupuytren’s tends to happen slowly, over a long period of time, often years. At first you may notice small bumps or thickening in your palm at the crease closest to your finger. As it progresses, you may have difficulty opening your hand to hold onto a doorknob, an umbrella handle or a tool. While Dupuytren’s is not usually painful, it can affect your ability to use your hands, as your range of motion may be limited. Often people with Dupuytren’s first notice not being able to shake someone’s hand because they can’t raise their ring and pinky finger out of their palm.
While it’s not certain what causes Dupuytren’s, it has a strong hereditary component and is most common in those of Northern European ancestry. If you are male, over the age of 50 and your father or grandfather came from Scandinavia, they likely passed the gene onto you. In fact, though you may not have known it, they may have had it too.
There is no cure for Dupuytren’s at this time and it won’t go away on its own, so it’s important to understand what treatment options are available.
- Therapy and wearing splints to keep your fingers open have unfortunately not been proven to be very effective in reducing the contractures or preventing them from getting worse.
- Steroid injections may help relieve pain and in some cases a series of injections may lessen the progression of the contractures but the results do vary.
- Surgery to remove the thickened tissue and bands is a long used and successful treatment
- Enzyme injections to break down the bands are a more recent option and have proven to be successful in many cases.
Surgery is generally done on an out-patient basis and involves a block to numb the hand while the surgery is performed. An incision is made in your palm to open the area and allow the doctor to clean out the tissues and release the tendons so they can move your fingers. Recovery takes a few weeks to a month or more and you may be seen by a hand therapist for a splint and exercises to help get your fingers moving.
Treatment with an enzyme injection does not require an incision and may be done in the doctor’s office or outpatient center. Your hand will be bandaged after the injection and your doctor will instruct you in exercises to help straighten your fingers.
Results can vary with both surgery and injections but you can certainly expect improvement in motion. That’s the good news,. The bad news (sorry) is that the contractures may return over time.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
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