Dupuytren’s contracture is a progressive condition that affects the tissue under the skin in your palm.
Bands or cords of tissue that run up your hand begin to thicken and tighten, pulling your fingers into a bent position. The disease most often affects the pinky and ring fingers.
The thickened tissue can form lumps that feel tender. And the curling of the fingers can cause pain and reduce mobility.
When the palm and fingers are contracted, the compressed tissue can also develop sensitive grooves that can make it difficult to use your hands.
There’s no cure for Dupuytren’s contracture. However, if the condition causes pain, itching, or discomfort, there are several treatments that may help.
One way to make life with Dupuytren’s contracture more comfortable is by using hand protection.
Wearing padded gloves while working or doing other manual activities can help prevent pressure on your palms that could irritate nodules, grooves, or tender skin.
Although more research is needed, a magnesium supplement may be able to help relax a contracture. The Dupuytren Foundation shared a report of a woman with Dupuytren’s contracture who began taking a magnesium supplement and found some improvement in her condition.
According to the author of the report, Dr. Charles Eaton, executive director of the Dupuytren Research Group, low magnesium levels may have harmful effects on people with Dupuytren’s contracture.
He recommends having your magnesium levels checked before supplementing, however, because too much of the mineral can also be harmful.
Talk with your healthcare provider to see if a magnesium supplement is appropriate for you.
Surgery is one of the most common treatments for advanced stages of Dupuytren’s contracture. It can help relieve pain and restore some mobility in your hand.
A typical procedure usually involves removing the thickened tissue from your palm.
In severe cases of Dupuytren’s contracture, a more extensive surgery may be required — especially if you’ve already undergone other procedures.
This type of surgery may involve removing all the affected tissue and even the surrounding skin on your palm. A skin graft may be required to cover parts of your palm where skin has been removed.
A treatment called needle aponeurotomy can help straighten fingers that have been bent from Dupuytren’s contracture and provide some pain relief.
Unlike with surgery, this needling procedure doesn’t require an incision. Instead, your hand is numbed. Then, a surgeon uses a needle to separate or break up the band of tissue that’s causing your fingers to contract.
If your fingers return to the bent position in the future, the procedure can be repeated.
After a surgical or needling procedure, you may need to see a physical therapist to regain mobility and functional strength in your affected hand.
But even if you haven’t had another treatment, physical therapy can also reduce pain and increase your range of motion. These treatments may include:
- heat therapy
Radiation therapy involves directing low-energy X-rays at the cords of tissue to soften the nodules in your palm.
This treatment isn’t as frequently used as others, but there’s some anecdotal evidence that it can ease tenderness and itching, according to the Dupuytren Foundation.
Steroid injections can help ease the inflammation and tenderness associated with Dupuytren’s contracture nodules. Repeated shots may also slow the progression of the disease for some people.
It’s important to note that steroid injections carry the risk of tendon rupture or atrophy of the skin at the injection site.
An enzyme injection is a relatively new treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture. The enzyme, collagenase clostridium histolyticum (Xiaflex), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010.
In this procedure, a surgeon injects the enzyme into the thickened band of tissue. After the drug softens the tissue, your healthcare provider can then break up the problematic cord.
Dupuytren’s contracture, a condition that causes tissue in your palm to thicken, can be painful and cause hand mobility issues.
While not necessary for everyone, treatments can help:
- slow the progression of the condition
- provide pain relief
- ease other discomfort
Options range from surgery and needling procedures to hand protection and potentially magnesium supplements.
Talk with your healthcare provider about the best ways to relieve your symptoms.