What is Dupuytren's Contracture?
Dupuytren’s Contracture is a genetic disorder that causes lumps and cords of abnormal scar tissue to form in the palms and fingers. As this scar tissue gradually contracts, it causes drawing in (contractures) of the fingers.
The cause is thought to be genetic, although it may not be present in every family member and may skip generations. It is particularly common in people of northern European descent. Trauma to the hand or fingers, including surgery, seems to activate or accelerate the disease in some cases, but is unlikely to be the root cause.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of this condition can include:
- Gradually growing lumps or cords of tissue in the palm or fingers
- The lumps may or may not be tender to touch, pain is usually minimal
- Gradual contracture of the finger joints (small and ring fingers most common)
- Some patients have similar symptoms in the feet or genitals
Is There a Test For Dupuytren's?
The diagnosis is typically made based on your history and a physical examination of your hands. There are no x-ray findings or blood tests for Dupuytren’s.
There is no cure for Dupuytren’s, but there are some effective treatments. Treatment recommendations depend on the severity and location of the contracture as well as your activity level and preferences.
Minor contractures are best treated with simple observation. Splinting and hand therapy are generally ineffective to prevent progression. Sometimes painful lumps can be injected with steroid to reduce pain. Moderate contractures may be a candidate for an injection treatment called Xiaflex. This is an enzyme that is injected into the abnormal cord of scar tissue to weaken it, followed by a minor office procedure to numb the area and stretch the weakened cord until it ruptures, and the finger straightens.
In cases of moderate to severe contracture where the hand can no longer push flat against a tabletop, surgical removal of the abnormal cords of scar tissue is usually recommended. This a procedure called partial fasciectomy. Unfortunately, even with surgical removal of the Dupuytren’s cords, they can recur over time.
Ready to Confirm a Diagnosis and Fix the Problem or Just Want to Learn More?
Our Board-Certified Orthopaedic Hand and Wrist Surgeons are here to help! They can often diagnose the problem in one visit, and get you started with a treatment plan. We offer a wide variety of both nonoperative and operative treatment options.
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