Dupuytren’s contracture, also known as palmar fibromatosis, is a common genetic condition that mostly affects older adult Caucasian males, although anyone can develop it. It causes the tissue under the skin of the hand to gradually tighten and thicken, usually around the pinky and ring fingers. Over time, it could permanently bend one or more fingers toward the palm, which can make it very complicated to do everyday movements like shaking hands.
Despite the common occurrence of Dupuytren’s contracture, many people have never even heard of it. This is because it is not typically obvious unless a person attempts to open their hand. Additionally, it is a condition that progresses slowly with little or no pain. It is not uncommon for it to be misdiagnosed as tendinitis or arthritis. There is evidence that patients with Dupuytren’s contracture have a higher risk of various cancers, heart disease, and early death, although the reasons for this are unknown.
Besides causing the permanent bending of fingers towards the palm, patients may also notice a lump forming in the affected area. Otherwise, there are usually no other symptoms.
Presently, treatments exist for the deformities that are caused by Dupuytren’s contracture but not for the process of the condition itself. Both surgical treatments and minimally invasive procedures are available, and the one that is used depends on personal choice of the patient.
Surgical options involve making cuts in the affected skin to either release or remove the contracture. These slits can either be stitched or left to heal at their own pace. Severe cases may require skin removal or skin graft in the palm. Less invasive options consist of releasing tension either with incisions made under the skin or injections formulated to weaken the tissue. Surgical procedures tend to last longer than other treatments.