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Dupuytren’s Disease

What is Dupuytren’s disease?

Dupuytren’s disease (sometimes known as ‘Dupuytren’s contracture’) is a condition in which the tendons that run in the palm of your hand become thickened and fibrous, and in some cases can develop nodules, These tendons are normally responsible for bending your fingers, so as they become more tough and fibrous, your fingers are pulled towards the palm of your hand, meaning that, with time, it can become impossible to completely flatten out your hand. This can have a big impact on many everyday activities, as holding items can be difficult. In severe cases this can even affect your ability to drive.

What causes Dupuytren’s disease?

The causes of Dupuytren’s disease are unknown, however, it is associated with:

  • Being male
  • Having a family history of the condition
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Some long-term medications
  • Liver disease
  • Having a manual job

How is Dupuytren’s disease diagnosed?

Dupuytren’s disease is normally diagnosed following a full physical examination of both of your hands, as well as a functional assessment. Further testing and imaging is not usually required.

Treatment and recovery

In some cases, symptoms can be very mild and affect only one finger without causing you any functional limitations. In these situations, treatment is often not needed.

For moderate symptoms an injection into the affected tendon can help to break down the fibrous tissue or nodule and improve your movement and function.

Where symptoms are affecting everyday life and causing limitations, surgery to remove the problematic tissues can be performed. This can be done with a local nerve block to completely numb the area, meaning that a general anaesthetic is not needed and you shouldn’t need to stay in hospital overnight. Recovery involves 4-8 weeks of special hand therapy to help resume your normal activities.

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