HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Dupuytrens Contracture

By Angela Young

Dupuytren's contracture is a painless thickening and contracture of tissue beneath the skin on the palm of the hand and fingers.

Causes

The cause is unknown. Family history of Dupuytren's contracture makes you more likely to develop this condition. It does not seem to be caused by occupation or from trauma.

The condition becomes more common after the age of 40. Men are affected more often than women. Risk factors are alcoholism, diabetes, and smoking.

 

Symptoms

One or both hands may be affected. The ring finger is affected most often, followed by the little, middle, and index fingers.

A small, painless nodule or lump develops in the tissue below the skin on the palm side of the hand. Over time, it thickens into a cord-like band.

It becomes difficult to extend or straighten the fingers. In severe cases, straightening them is impossible.

Diagnosis

The health care will examine your hands. The physical examination of the palm will show thickened scar tissue and difficulty straightening the fingers.

 

Treatment

Exercises, warm water baths, or splints may be helpful.

Surgery may be performed to release the contracture, depending on the severity of the condition. Normal movement of the fingers is usually restored by surgery followed by physical therapy exercises for the hand.

A newer treatment involves injecting a substance called collagenase into the scarred or fibrous tissue. Three injections are needed. You may have side effects such as swelling, pain, and itching. A more rare but severe side effect is rupture of the tendon.

Prognosis

The disorder progresses at an unpredictable rate. Surgical treatment can usually restore normal movement to the fingers. The disease can recur following surgery in up to half of cases within 10 years.

Complications

Worsening of the contracture may result in deformity and loss of function of the hand. There is a risk of injury to blood vessels and nerves during surgery.


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