Dupuytren's contracture is an abnormal thickening and tightening of the normally elastic tissue beneath the skin of the palm and fingers. This tissue is called fascia. The fascia contains strands of fibers, like cords, that run from the palm upward into the fingers. In Dupuytren's contracture, these cords tighten, or contract, causing the fingers to curl forward. In severe cases, it can lead to crippling hand deformities.
The condition usually runs in families, which means it is inherited. You are also more likely to develop this condition if you have a Northern European (English, Irish, Scottish, French, Dutch) or Scandinavian (Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish) background.
Symptoms of Dupuytren's Contracture
The first symptom for many patients is one or more lumps (nodules) under the skin in the palm of the hand. The lump may feel tender and sore at first, but this discomfort eventually goes away. The nodules cause tough bands of tissue to form under the skin in the palm. These inflexible bands cause the fingers to bend, or "curl," forward toward the wrist. As this curling gets worse, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to straighten the fingers. The pinkie and ring fingers are most often affected, appearing clenched. Both hands are usually involved, although one may have worse symptoms than the other. People with Dupuytren's contracture often have a hard time picking up large objects, or placing their hands into their pockets, something you might do on an everyday basis to retrieve coins, cash, or your ID card.