Dupuytren’s Disease can cause loss of the use of your hand. The good news is, it’s treatable! ORA Hand Surgeon Dr. Tobias Mann shares more information about this vexing condition.
Who gets Dupuytren’s Disease and why?
“You can thank your parents for it,” ORA Hand Surgeon, Dr. Tobias Mann, says, although he adds that while parents may carry the gene, they won’t necessarily have the disease themselves. Also, it’s more common in persons of Northern European ancestry, and in men than women.
“When you carry the genetic predisposition, trauma or certain medical conditions can trigger the disease,” he says. A broken wrist can precede expression of the condition, for instance.
Early symptoms include hard nodules – lumps and bumps – that develop in the palm of your hand. They are not usually painful, and sometimes will recede without treatment. At this stage, the advice is usually to wait and see.
Later, as the nodules thicken to create a cord, they can cause bending of your fingers into the palm of your hand.
“It makes using your hand difficult,” Dr. Mann says. “It’s hard to put your hands in your pockets, put gloves on, or grab hold of objects if you have fingers that are stuck in your palm.”
Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Disease, Contracture
Dupuytren’s Disease is characterized by hardening and thickening of the tissue in your palm. It can form nodules, or knots, that eventually create a cord.
- Thickening of the skin on the palm of the hand
- Puckering appearance of the skin on the palm of the hand
- Contracture occurs when the fingers – often the ring and pinky – bend into the palm
- You cannot straighten your fingers or lay your hand down flat
- You cannot complete fine motor activities easily
Treatments for Dupuytren’s Contracture
Dupuytren’s Disease is neither painful nor life-threatening, and it may go away on its own. If it progresses into contracture, treatment may help restore finger mobility and flexibility.
Dr. Mann says treatment for Dupuytren’s Contracture begins with a minimally invasive procedure.
“We inject collagenase, an enzyme, into the cord, and 24 to 48 hours later are able to straighten the affected fingers,” he says.
Surgery is another option, for tougher cases. The most common procedure is a Total Palmar Fasciectomy in which the diseased tissue is simply cut out. The patient wears a splint afterwards, and completes 6 weeks of therapy.