Dupuytren's contracture

Dupuytren's contracture (Dupuytren's disease) occurs when connective tissue in the hand becomes shortened, preventing you from fully extending your finger. The condition is normally accompanied by a local thickening of the skin in the palm of the hand.

Dupuytren's contracture can affect one or both hands. As the condition develops, patients may experience one or more fingers being pulled towards the palm of the hand and, even though the tendons are not affected, this prevents the fingers involved being fully stretched.

Sometimes Dupuytren's contracture causes a lump or a cord in the hand; this may be present for a number of years without developing further. However, if the contracture pulls the finger too far then normal use of the hand becomes difficult. In these cases, treatment may be sought.

In some cases, the skin can develop small pits because of the constant tension.

It's not known exactly what causes Dupuytren's contracture, but research suggests there may be several factors that could affect susceptibility to the disease:

  • Genetics /family history of the disease may be the most significant factor
  • It's more common and usually more severe in men over 50 years old
  • Suffering from diabetes may have an affect
  • Treatment for epilepsy using anticonvulsants
  • Excessive smoking or drinking

The initial symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture (Dupuytren's disease) usually include the growth of small lumps of tissue (nodules) on the palm of your hand (or hands).

Over a period of time, often months or even years, bands of contracted tissue (called cords) may develop in your hand, and this may cause your fingers to bend towards the palm and you may not be able to fully straighten your fingers. This can make day to day tasks difficult to perform.

The condition can affect one or both hands and, in rare cases, can also affect the toes and soles of the feet.

Characteristic symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture are:

  • Thickened skin
  • Fingers bent towards the palm
  • Lumps of tissue/nodules
  • Dimples or pitted marks on the skin
  • Tenderness on the palm

Your doctor will be able to diagnose Dupuytren's contracture (Dupuytren's disease) by examining your palm and hand for signs of the condition. If the condition is affecting your quality of life, you may be referred to a specialist for further assessment and any appropriate treatment.

Palmar fasciectomy

Palmar fasciectomy is surgery to treat Dupuytren’s contracture, a condition that causes thickening of the skin on the palm of the hand and the gradual pulling of the fingers towards the palm.