Dupuytren's contracture

Dupuytren's contracture (Dupuytren's disease) is when the tissue near your fingers becomes thick and less flexible, causing one or more fingers to bend towards your palm.

What is Dupuytren's contracture?

Nodules and long cords form beneath the skin in your hand. These are hard and inflexible, so you can’t straighten one or more fingers. Eventually your fingers bend towards the palm of your hand, which can limit what you can do at home and work.

Dupuytren's contracture is a common condition affecting around 1 in 20 people in the UK. It’s six times more common in men than women and more common in older people.

There’s no cure, but it can be treated.

Your doctor may offer you an injection to weaken the tissue that's keeping your fingers bent, or they can be surgically straightened.

Left untreated it tends to get worse, but only a small number of people need surgery.

How to tell if you have Dupuytren's contracture

Symptoms include:

  • A lump or nodule on the palm of your hand(s) which may be painful – normally under the fourth or fifth fingers
  • You may also notice skin texture changes with small pits in the palm(s)
  • You may have hard cords in your palms which appear to grow from a nodule and pull your fingers towards your palm – at this stage, you may start to have difficulty using your hand

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about symptoms

You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.

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Diagnosis and tests for Dupuytren's contracture

Your GP should be able to give you an accurate diagnosis after asking you some questions and a careful examination of both hands.

No other tests or investigations are likely to be necessary. Your GP will consider other possible causes of your problem, such as a callus, ganglion or trigger finger.

Causes of Dupuytren's contracture

The exact cause of Dupuytren's contracture is still unknown, but it's been linked to:

  • A family history of the condition
  • Using vibrating hand tools appear to increase the risk
  • Diabetes or epilepsy
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Injury or surgery to the hand or wrist
  • Smoking

You may have none of these, but still be affected by Dupuytren's disease.

Common treatments for Dupuytren's contracture

In the early stages of the disease, Dupuytren's contracture treatment can’t usually help. If you're treated, you'll often need treatment again sometime later.

The main treatment options are:

  • Collagenase (Xiapex®) injections – afterwards your fingers will be straightened by a surgeon
  • Radiotherapy – only used in the early stages of Dupuytren’s disease
  • Fasciectomy followed by finger splinting and physiotherapy
  • Needle fasciotomy performed as an outpatient under local anaesthetic

As with all surgery, there are risks and possible complications. Your consultant will carefully explain these.