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Dupuytren’s Contracture

What is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture (also called Dupuytren’s disease) is a condition that affects the hand and fingers. It is characterized by the thickening and tightening of the connective tissue beneath the skin of the palm and fingers. This thickening causes the fingers to bend inward towards the palm, making it difficult to straighten them. The ring and little fingers are most commonly affected. In many cases, it affects both hands. Rarely, feet may also be affected.

What is the main cause of Dupuytren’s Contracture?

The exact cause of Dupuytren’s is unknown, but it is believed to be hereditary. It may environmental as well and linked to smoking, alcoholism, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, or medicines to treat seizures.

What are the symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture?

  • Not being able to lay your hand flat on a table, palm down (called the tabletop test)
  • One or more small, tender lumps (nodules) in the palm. Over time, the tenderness usually goes away.
  • The nodules may thicken and contract or tighten. This can cause thick bands of tissue under the skin in the palm of the hand.
  • Pits or grooves in the skin compressed by the contracted finger. These areas can become very sore and can lead to skin loss if they don’t heal properly.
  • Fingers are pulled forward towards the palm
  • Your hand is not able to work as well

The types of treatment for Dupuytren’s Contracture?

There is no cure for Dupuytren’s. The condition is not dangerous. Many people do not get treatment. But treatment can slow the progress of the disease or help ease symptoms. Most common treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Steroid injection
  • Enzyme injection
  • Needle aponeurotomy

Rehabilitation for Dupuytren’s Contracture

The treatment options described above will likely not be enough to treat the disease. Hand therapy may be prescribed to increase finger motion, strength and function.

Common treatment techniques that will be provided are:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Massage
  • Manipulation
  • Hand splinting

It is important that you seek care from a Certified Hand Therapist or Occupational therapist that specializes in hands. These therapists are extremely experienced in treating this condition. Without the proper treatment including custom splinting, you may result in loss of motion and functional use following surgery.

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