Dupuytren Contracture is a hand deformity in which thickening and shortening of the deep supporting tissue of the hand (palmar fascia), found above the hand bones and tendons and below the skin of the hand, occurs. Developing over time, these changes to the palmar fascia cause lumps on the palm of the hand that bends the fingers down toward the palm, preventing the hand from the opening.
The affected person cannot straighten the fingers completely, which hampers the performance of day to day activities such as putting on gloves, placing the hands in pockets or shaking hands.
This deformity mainly affects the two fingers farthest from the thumb and occurs mostly in older men of European origin. There are a number of treatments available to slow down the advancement of the disease and relieve the affected person from its symptoms.
Factors Contributing to Dupuytren’s Contracture:
- Biological maleness
- Northern European descent
- Consumption of alcohol
- Certain medical conditions (ie; diabetes and seizures)
- Increased age
- Nodules: One or more small, tender lumps or nodules forming in the palm.
- Tissue Bands: The nodules may condense and contract, creating tough bands of tissue under the skin.
- Pulled fingers. One or more fingers bend facing the palm. The ring and little fingers are the most affected. As the bend in the finger develops, it may become difficult to straighten the finger.
If symptoms increase as described, the orthopedists will examine the hand and test the feeling, grip, range of motion and pinch strength in the thumb and fingers. Based upon these measurements, the treatment for the patient is determined.
How Dupuytren Contracture Progresses
Dupuytren contracture leads to slow but progressive changes in the palms of the hand. In this condition, scar tissue develops beneath the skin of the palm, and as the disease progresses, the scar tissue decreases. This gradually pulls the fingers into in a bent position called a contracture. Over time, the affected person is unable to perform daily activities.
The ring finger and the small finger are most affected by this progression. However, in the early stages, most people are unable to identify the condition because they are still able to perform daily activities with just a slight bending.
Complications In Dupuytren Contracture
Dupuytren contracture can make it difficult to perform certain functions requiring the hand. As this does not affect the thumb and index finger usually, many people are still able to perform motor activities such as writing. But as the condition progresses, it can curb your ability to fully open your hand, hold large objects or get your hand into narrow places.