What is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition that affects approximately five percent of people throughout the United States. It causes nodules to develop in the layer of tissue under the skin of your palm over the course of years. This condition can affect both of your hands, though in most cases, one hand is affected more severely than the other.

In the beginning stages of Dupuytren’s contracture, the skin on the palm of your hand thickens. Later, this skin may appear puckered or dimpled and develop a firm lump that is tender when touched.

As nodules form over time, tough cords of tissue develop beneath the skin, rendering your fingers unable to completely straighten, resulting in a forced and constant bending of the fingers as they’re pulled toward your palm. This can make a large number of routine activities that require the use of your hands more difficult.

There is no clear cause for Dupuytren’s contracture, though certain factors may indicate that you are more likely to develop it. It is a hereditary disease, and men of Northern European descent are affected most frequently. It also typically only begins after the age of 50.

Certain lifestyle factors, such as tobacco and alcohol usage, are also associated with an increased risk of developing Dupuytren’s contracture, as well as people with diabetes and seizure disorders.

There is no cure for Dupuytren’s contracture, but surgical and non-surgical treatments are available. Anti-inflammatory steroid injections into the nodules that form beneath the skin may slow the progression of the condition, and in advanced cases, surgery can remove the cords that form in the hands to restore mobility.

Two types of surgical procedures are available for Dupuytren’s contracture: fasciotomy and subtotal palmar fasciectomy. During a fasciotomy, the cords in your hand are divided, not removed; during a subtotal palmar fasciectomy, these cords are removed, along with as much abnormal tissue as possible.

You can receive treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-6923.

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