Dupuytren’s disease, or Dupuytren’s contracture, is not something you hear about every day. It is a form of fibrosis which affects the hand, which contracts. The fingers tend to bend involuntarily towards the palm of the hand.
Dupuytren’s disease: what are the symptoms?
A person suffering from Dupuytren’s disease will notice the fibrous layer of the palm of their hands and their fingers (most often the ring finger and the baby finger) change and harden. This is explained by a thickening and transformation of the existing layer of tissue between the skin and the tendons. Palpable nodules form as well as fibrous strings which limit the extension of the hand and the fingers. While closing the fist remains possible, opening it out fully or spreading out the fingers becomes difficult. The disease can remain stable for years, without the hand contracting further. Depending on the case, the progression of the disease can take from several months to several years.
What causes it?
The exact causes of Dupuytren’s disease are still unknown, although genetics appear to play a part. The fact that several members of the same family can be affected lends support to the hypothesis that it has a genetic cause. This disease appears to be more frequent in men, in people with diabetes, people with shoulder-hand syndrome or chronic alcoholics. A trauma – even a minor one – can also be at the origin of this disease.
Unfortunately there is no medical cure for this disease. The only possible treatment is surgery. Very mild forms are generally not operated on, if they are not disrupting the person in their daily life. However, it is best not to wait too long either, because over time, treatment can become more difficult, more risky and carry increased risk of recurrence. Once the fifth finger or the joints of the fingers are affected, intervention becomes more complex. Surgical treatment aims to cut the affected tissue. As the problem often recurs, repeated surgeries can be necessary following an interval of several months or years.