Dupuytren’s contracture is a progressive condition that involves the thickening of the fibrous layer of tissue beneath the skin, which results in the fingers being pulled inward. It mostly affects the ring and pinky fingers.
This condition usually progresses slowly over years or even decades. However, there’s not enough research to determine the average span for the progression of Dupuytren’s contracture.
Most who develop it are men over age 50. If a younger man develops Dupuytren’s contracture, the condition usually progresses more quickly and tends to be more severe. Otherwise, many people may have a mild case that requires no treatment.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research to say definitively if there are ways to slow the progression of Dupuytren’s contracture.
While studies have looked at options such as steroid injections, physical therapy, vitamin E, massage, radiotherapy, or splinting, the results had limited or inconclusive data that these treatments will slow the progression and treat the condition.
Steroid injections and radiotherapy seem to be the most promising in slowing the progression, but again, the research is limited.
There is no cure, but some limited data suggests that steroid injections and radiotherapy can slow down the progression.
If your condition is moderate or severe, you will have more treatment options, including surgery (open fasciectomy), percutaneous needle aponeurotomy (PNA), or injections with collagenase clostridium histolyticum (CCH) to help improve your hand mobility and help reverse the contracture.
Surgery is more effective, but PNA has higher patient satisfaction.
Keep in mind that Dupuytren’s contracture can recur after any of these treatments, especially with PNA or CCH injections.
There are a number of risk factors for Dupuytren’s contracture.
People who have type 2 diabetes, consume alcohol and tobacco, or take certain medications for seizures are at higher risk for developing Dupuytren’s contracture.
Also, being older, a male, having Scandinavian or Northern European background, or a family history of Dupuytren’s contracture puts you at higher risk for the condition.
Additionally, limited research has shown that stretching and splinting can potentially aggravate Dupuytren’s contracture.
While Dupuytren’s contracture might only affect one hand, it’s common for the condition to affect both hands, as well.
Sometimes, a person can have a similar contracture of the feet with a condition called Ledderhose disease.
Dupuytren’s contracture is also associated with Peyronie’s disease, which is a contracture of the penis.
Dupuytren’s contracture can result in a functional disability if it’s severe and affects a person’s range of motion and fine motor skills. Fortunately, it rarely affects the index and middle fingers, so writing ability stays intact.
Treatment options for Dupuytren’s contracture are limited.
Doctors may use steroid injections to ease pain or radiotherapy to help slow the progression of the disease.
Enzyme injections with collagenase clostridium histolyticum or a needle aponeurotomy can help loosen the fibrous tissue in cases of moderate to severe Dupuytren’s contracture.
Surgery with an open fasciectomy can also treat Dupuytren’s contracture.
Unfortunately, there’s a chance that the disease will recur after surgery, needle aponeurotomy, or with enzyme injections.
Dupuytren’s contracture is a benign condition and is not considered dangerous to your overall health. However, if you have moderate or severe disease, it will affect your ability to use your hands.
It can occur in both hands. However, one hand can progress more aggressively and severely.
Alana Biggers is an internal medicine physician. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, where she specializes in internal medicine. She also has a master’s of public health in chronic disease epidemiology. In her spare time, Dr. Biggers likes to share healthy living tips with followers on Twitter.