There are different conditions that can lead to hand deformities, sometimes severely impacting a person's grip and ability to perform daily tasks. Dupuytren's contracture is one such condition that, if left untreated, can have a lasting impact on a person's life. Dr. Steven Bailey at The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery can help patients in the greater Atlanta, GA area that suffer from Dupuytren's contracture.

What Is Dupuytren's Contracture?

Dupuytren's contracture is a type of hand deformity that progresses slowly over the years. The condition begins with the thickening of the skin in the palm of the hand, which may eventually appear puckered or dimpled. Over time, nodules or lumps may develop in the palm of the hand.

As Dupuytren's contracture continues to progress, tissue under the skin of the palm cause the fingers to curl in toward the palm. It can become difficult to straighten out the fingers after suffering from the condition for a long period of time. The ring finger and little finger are most commonly affected, though the middle finger can also be affected.

Symptoms of Dupuytren's Contracture

Some of the most common symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture include:

  • Formation of lumps in the palm
  • Bending inward of the fingers
  • Difficulty straightening fingers
  • Problems gripping objects properly

Causes of Dupuytren's Contracture

While Dupuytren's contracture tends to run in families, the exact cause of the hand deformity remains a mystery. However, doctors and medical scientists have noticed a correlation between Dupuytren's contracture and the following factors:

  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Seizures

Men of Northern European descent run a much greater risk of developing this condition later in life.

Types of Dupuytren's Contracture

Dr. Charles Eaton, a specialist in Dupuytren's contracture, has suggested there are three types of the condition.

  • Type 1 Dupuytren's Contracture: An aggressive form of the condition that affects people under the age of 50. This type of Dupuytren's contracture only affects 3 percent of people diagnosed with the condition.
  • Type 2 Dupuytren's Contracture: This is the most common type of Dupuytren's contracture, typically beginning after age 50.
  • Type 3 Dupuytren's Contracture: This is a mild form of Dupuytren's contracture that does not lead to full finger contracture and is commonly associated with diabetes, certain medical conditions, and use of anti-seizure medications rather than family history.

Dupuytren's Contracture Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Dupuytren's contracture is fairly straightforward. Dr. Bailey will closely examine the palms of the patient's hands to check for tissue growth and lumps. Additional scans and X-rays are rarely required.

Treatment of Dupuytren's Contracture

Dupuytren's contracture progresses slowly, so immediate treatment may not be necessary if it does not seriously impact your grip or use of your hands. For minor cases of Dupuytren's contracture, doctors may use a needle to puncture the cords of tissue causing the condition. It's also possible to administer enzyme injections to soften the cords of tissue and improve finger movement.

For advanced cases of Dupuytren's contracture, surgery may be recommended. This will usually involve the removal of the cords of tissue causing the problems with finger movement. More invasive surgeries may be necessary, and could involve the removal of some skin of the palm and replacement of the skin with a skin graft.

Recovery after Dupuytren's Contracture Surgery

Following Dupuytren's contracture surgery, patients are encouraged to get ample rest and to avoid strenuous physical activities. The exact amount of time off from work can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and if there is any need for skin grafting. A hand brace may be required for up to several weeks to ensure proper healing.

Contact The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery to learn more about Dupuytren's contracture and the treatment options available.