People who suffer from dupuytren’s contracture find that their hand is no longer capable of resting in a straight position. Dupuytren’s contracture slowly causes the fingers on the hand to curl inward. This long term condition can cause a person’s hand to slightly resemble a claw. Unsurprisingly, this can have quite an impact on a person’s day to day life.
For most people who suffer from Dupuytren’s contracture, they will find that it occurs in their pinky and ring fingers. In rare cases it can occur in other fingers, or the thumb. The good news is that people who suffer from dupuytren’s contracture can receive treatment. In many cases, treatment can be provided which will alleviate the condition and hopefully not suffer a recurrence.
How It Works
When Dupuytren’s contracture strikes, it does so slowly. Over years, it develops tissue under the skin of the hand or hands. The tissues form into a type of cord that runs from the palm and up into the fingers. They kind of resemble tendons in the body. Then as things get worse, these cords shrink and tighten. That pulls the fingers towards the palm of the hand, developing the distinctive curling shape of the hand. While Dupuytren’s contracture can strike a person in both hands, it’s very rarely as severe in the second hand.
Several factors make people more likely to suffer from Dupuytren’s contracture. People who come from Northern European descent are at a much higher risk than others. Men get it more than women do. People over the age of 50 are the most commonly affected. Those with diabetes have shown a higher rate of Dupuytren’s contracture. Finally, people who smoke or have an excessive alcohol intake can be at risk as well.
Signs and Symptoms
There are minimal symptoms for this condition. It can actually take many years to develop to the point where there are clear and obvious signs with the fingers curling. There are a few symptoms that may be seen earlier however.
The first sign is usually that the skin gets thicker on the hands in the area where the tissues are going to form. From there, it’s possible the skin will gain dimples or look like it’s puckered. Sometimes a lump will show itself. They are rarely painful, but are sensitive to the touch.
Treatment of Dupuytren’s Contracture
Minor cases require the least treatment. In some cases, if it isn’t painful and not affecting the ability of the hand to perform normal tasks, then no treatment may be necessary. A wait and see approach can be taken in those incidents. The goal for treating dupuytren’s contracture is to break the tissue cords and try to ensure that they won’t return.
Surgery can be common for people with advanced cases that seem to be getting worse. The tissue from the palm is just surgically removed. Sometimes additional tissue in the area will need to be removed as well. In these cases, a skin graft from elsewhere on the body might be needed. Physical therapy can be needed after surgery to regain full use of the hand.
There are also alternatives to surgery. Needling is a procedure in which needles are used to weaken and separate the tissue cords until they break. No therapy is required afterward and recovery is very quick! There are also injections that can be taken in the hand to soften and weakn the tissue so that a doctor can break the cords. Again, quick recovery is the benefit. The downside to non surgical options is that they have a much higher rate of recurrence. The treatments can be performed again, but this can lead to a cycle that is less than ideal for the person dealing with Dupuytren’s contracture.
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