What is Dupuytren's contracture?

ABC7’s The More in the Morning team spoke with Dr. Michael K. Kim, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, about Dupuytren's contracture and how it can be treated. Dupuytren's contracture (also called Dupuytren's disease) is an abnormal thickening of the skin in the palm of your hand at the base of your fingers. This thickened area may develop into a hard lump or thick band.

In Dupuytren’s contracture, the tightening of the tissue causes the fingers to become bent down, which may become permanent if not treated. The tightening usually starts on the pinky finger and then travels down to the thumb as time goes on. This can make it difficult to grasp large objects and make simple movements like washing your face or putting on gloves. Because the thumb and index finger aren’t usually involved, the condition usually doesn’t affect your ability to write and grasp small objects.

 Dupuytren's contracture

In men, Dupuytren's contracture most often occurs after age 50. In women, it tends to appear later and be less severe. However, Dupuytren's contracture can occur at any time of life, including childhood. The disorder can make it more difficult or impossible for affected individuals to perform manual tasks such as preparing food, writing, or playing musical instruments.

Dupuytren contracture often first occurs in only one hand, affecting the right hand twice as often as the left. About 80 percent of affected individuals eventually develop features of the condition in both hands.

Surgical Treatment

In most cases, minimally invasive surgery is the best option for Dupuytren’s contracture. During the procedure, your hand surgeon removes the thickened tissue in your palm, which allows the fingers to move again.

Surgery is an important consideration, as the contracture is often recurring, and surgery offers patients a more complete and longer-lasting release than that provided by needle or enzyme methods. Delaying surgery until your condition is severe—for example, waiting until you are unable to use your hands to do daily activities—could make the surgery and your recovery harder.

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