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What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a hand condition that affects the layer of elastic tissue that underlies the skin of the palm and fingers. Over time, this normally pliant tissue can gradually thicken, which can cause one or more fingers – usually the ring finger and pinkie – to be pulled upward into a permanently bent position. The condition can occur in both hands, although one hand may be more severely affected than the other.

In many cases, Dupuytren’s contracture develops after age 50, but its precise causes are not well understood. Through research performed to date, scientists have been unable to establish any link between the condition and prior hand injuries or occupations that cause repetitive hand vibration.

What are the symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture?

Typically, Dupuytren’s contracture progresses very slowly over the course of many years. Some common signs include:

  • A thickening, dimpling or puckering of the skin on the palm
  • A firm, painless knot of tissue on the palm
  • An inability to straighten the ring finger and pinkie, open the hand fully or grasp large objects

How is Dupuytren’s contracture treated?

Treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture is not always necessary. If the condition is not limiting or painful, a physician may simply recommend a wait-and-watch approach. A simple way to monitor the progression of Dupuytren’s contracture is to perform a tabletop test, which involves attempting to place the palm flat on a table. When treatment is required, the goal is to break up the fibrous cords of tissue that are pulling the fingers toward the palm. This may be accomplished in a number of ways, including needling, enzyme injections or, in severe cases, surgery.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, we welcome individuals who have been diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture as well as those who are experiencing nonspecific hand or wrist pain. Throughout the diagnostic and treatment process, our experienced orthopedic specialists are committed to providing our patients with the individualized attention and extensive support that they need to return to their active lifestyles.

To request an appointment with a fellowship-trained hand and wrist specialist, contact Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine today. We welcome patients from Houston, Texas, and other nearby communities.