If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture (whose technical term is palmar fibromatosis), you may be wondering what it is and whether it can be corrected so you can grip again.
Dupuytren’s contracture is a hand deformity that is caused by the development of knots of tissue under the palm’s skin. The knots eventually become cords of tight tissue that pull the fingers toward the palm of the hand – usually affecting the pinky and the ring finger.
This syndrome inhibits flexibility and usefulness of the hand, so it can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. Let’s examine its symptoms and what can be done to regain the proper functioning of your hand.
Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture
In the initial stages of this hand condition, the skin on the palm thickens and can feel like a firm lump. The lump typically feels a bit sensitive to the touch, but it usually doesn’t hurt.
In later stages of the condition, tight cords of tissue develop from the palm to the fingers. The cords pull the fingers toward the palm, which makes stretching the hand out completely either difficult or impossible, depending on the severity. The fingers most often affected are the ring finger and the pinky.
Treatments for the Condition
Dupuytren’s contracture can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the condition’s severity. Some of the most common treatments are the following:
Gloves and Cushion Tape
For mild Dupuytren’s contracture, your doctor may recommend avoiding gripping things tightly in order to prevent the condition from becoming worse. The physician may also recommend the use of padded gloves or cushion tape when working with your hands to help prevent using a tight grip on items.
This method involves inserting a needle through the skin to puncture and break the cords of tissue under the palm or fingers. Doing this can help reduce and alleviate the pulling effect on the fingers, thereby increasing flexibility and usability of the hand.
Needling can be an effective treatment to help reduce the tightness in some parts of the hand. However, it cannot be performed in every part of the hand due to the location of nerves and blood vessels.
In this treatment, enzymes are injected into the cord in the palm so it becomes soft. Once the area softens, the cord can be manipulated by the doctor. Similar to needling, the enzyme injection may not be able to be given in every part of the hand.
In many cases, the cord can be completely broken as the physician bends the hand in certain positions. Make sure this is only performed by a medical doctor, or permanent disability can result.
In cases where cushioning, needling, and enzyme injections do not work or the condition has progressed significantly, your doctor may recommend surgery. The surgery involves removing the palm’s tight bands of tissue that are responsible for the pulling.
While surgery gives you longer-lasting results, it requires extensive recovery followed by physical therapy. However, this method should help you regain the strength, control, and usefulness of your hand again.
Hand Doctors in San Antonio
If you are looking for an experienced and trustworthy medical team to treat an orthopedic condition such as Dupuytren’s contracture, consider the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.
Call us today at (210) 692-7400 to make an appointment, or fill out our appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you feel as good as new.