I can’t straighten my fingers – Dupuytren’s

Dupuytrens Contracture stuck fingers

What is Dupuytren’s Contracture

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.

Symptoms & Causes of Dupuytren’s

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.

Treatment of Dupuytren’s

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.

Options include:

  • 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.

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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

9 comments on “I can’t straighten my fingers – Dupuytren’s

  1. I am a 73 female , all my life I have not been able to straighten my fingers, I was also born with polydactyly as was my son , and his daughter. Yes, I have cupital tunnel as well which is the biggest problem . This was operated on a while ago with a disappointing result. Are there many people with similar conditions and what can be done.

  2. Left pointer finger. 2nd nuckle from finger tip. Nuckle bends fine up to about 80 %. Will not close after that without pain. Can’t close around golf club. All other fingers work good. My age 76.

  3. I have been using a very small hard ball and rolling on palm of my hand. I have noticed very positive results including reduction in size of bumps and lesser pain. Particularly effective on the hand I started early on. Bill Pierce

  4. 3 and sometimes 4 fingers curl up on bitj hands i have to pull my fingers straight no pain discomfort nubness in fingers suger is good sometimes shooting pain up to neck

  5. I am 64 and getting these symptoms, swelling (knot) in the right hand and can’t quiet straighten my ring finger. And yes I am of Scandinavia ancestry.
    No pain just discomfort, so far. It’s been coming on for about a year.

  6. Thank you for explaining that if you can’t straighten your fingers, it might be Dupuytren’s Contracture. My grandpa has been complaining more and more that he doesn’t have the same amount of use in his hands anymore and that he can’t straighten them out as much anymore. I think that we’ll take him to the doctor and see if this is Dupuytren’s and what options he has to help with this.

    1. I got it in my late 30s I noticed a hardness on the palm side of my pinky finger on my right hand, and slowly noticed my finger starting to bend and unable to straighten it out. I live with this for 15 years and finally decided to go to a doctor to see about having it removed, which I did and it was very successful. The hardest part when I had it was trying to put a glove on.

      1. I have the exact sane thing. Putting on gloves shaking hands or washing my face are hard. What kind of improvement did you get?

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