Dupuytren's contracture is a hand deformity that causes an abnormal thickening of the tissue just beneath the skin. This thickening occurs in the palm and can extend into the fingers.
What causes Dupuytren’s disease?
The cause of Dupuytren’s disease is unknown at this time, but genetics are suspected. The disease is primarily diagnosed in older males of Northern European descent. Risk factors include diabetes and a history of alcohol and tobacco use.
The signs of Dupuytren’s disease can progress over time and can cause problems with activities such as grabbing objects, washing your hands, wearing gloves or shaking hands. Signs of the disease include:
- A small firm lump or lumps on the palm that cause skin to look dimpled
- A cord from your palm into your finger that pulls the finger down toward the palm
- This symptom is common in ring and small fingers
- Not being able to lay your hand flat
This disease can only be diagnosed by a medical provider. You should see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Our experts at the Hand and Upper Extremity Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will make a diagnosis based on a physical exam and your medical and family history.
In the early stages of Dupuytren’s disease, you may not need any treatment. But, as the disease progresses, therapy, collagen injections or surgery may be warranted to improve hand function.
Dupuytren’s is usually not painful, but stiffness and mild discomfort may occur. To lessen the symptoms, you can use heat, massage or over-the-counter pain relievers.
Surgery is an option and is elective – the success rate varies depending on the severity of the disease. After surgery, you can return to work and/or driving when you feel confident and are no longer taking pain medications. Recovery time is different for everyone and can range between six weeks to four months.
What happens if you don’t treat Dupuytren’s disease?
If the disease continues to progress and affects one or more of your fingers, symptoms may become more pronounced.