Dupuytren’s Contracture

What is Dupuytren’s contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture (also called Dupuytren’s disease) is an abnormal thickening of the skin in the palm of your hand at the base of your fingers. This thickened area may develop into a hard lump or thick band. Over time, it can cause one or more fingers to curl (contract), or pull sideways or in toward your palm.

The ring and little fingers are most commonly affected. In many cases, it affects both hands. Rarely, feet may also be affected.

What causes Dupuytren’s contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is believed to run in families (be hereditary). The exact cause is not known.

It may be linked to cigarette smoking, alcoholism, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, or medicines used to treat seizures.

Who is at risk for Dupuytren’s contracture?

You may be at greater risk for Dupuytren’s contracture if you:

  • Are older. The condition usually starts in middle age.
  • Are male. It is more common in men than women.
  • Have a Scandinavian or Northern European background. It is most common in people whose families come from these regions.
  • Have a family history. The condition is often found in families, so it may be inherited.
  • Take seizure medicine. It is linked with some medicines used to treat epileptic seizures.
  • Smoke or abuse alcohol
  • Have diabetes

What are the symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture?

Common symptoms may include:

  • Not being able to lay your hand flat on a table, palm down (called the tabletop test)
  • One or more small, tender lumps (nodules) in the palm. Over time, the tenderness usually goes away.
  • The nodules may thicken and contract or tighten. This can cause thick bands of tissue under the skin in the palm of the hand.
  • Pits or grooves in the skin compressed by the contracted finger. These areas can become very sore and can lead to skin loss if they don’t heal properly.
  • Fingers are pulled forward
  • Your hand is not able to work as well

The symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is Dupuytren’s contracture diagnosed?

Your provider will examine your hand. He or she will test the flexibility and feeling in your thumb and fingers. Your grip and pinch strength may also be tested.

Your provider will measure and record the locations of nodules and bands on your palm. Using a special tool, he or she will measure how much your fingers are curling or contracting. Range of motion in your fingers may also be measured.

These measurements will be compared to later measurements to see if the disease gets any worse. They can also be used to see if treatment is working.