Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition that leads to the curling of the fingers and may result in crippling hand deformities. It affects the facia, i.e. the fibrous tissue underneath the skin of the palm and fingers. People suffering from Dupuytren’s disease experience the fibers in the fascia tightening or contracting over time. This causes the fingers to be pulled inward.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
One of the prominent symptoms includes the development of small lumps and nodules in the palm. While these may feel tender and sore in the beginning, the discomfort goes away over time. The disease progresses slowly, and as the condition worsens, the nodules lead to the formation of tough bands of tissue under the skin. These bands then cause the fingers to bend and curl forward, making it difficult for one to perform daily activities.
It is important to be aware of such symptoms and get them treated before they worsen and hinder one’s lifestyle. Some of the methods to treat Dupuytren’s contracture are mentioned below:
These methods are usually recommended for early stages of Dupuytren’s disease. Some doctors recommend stretching the fingers and palms in mild stages of the condition. One is also advised to consult a physiotherapist before using any stretching exercise to treat the condition.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
These medications are injected into a Dupuytren’s module to reduce swelling. The treatment requires multiple doses of injection to considerably reduce the size of nodules and might not prove to be effective in the later stages, when more thickened tissues have been formed. Anti-inflammatory injections can slow the progression of the disease but will not help in uncurling the fingers if the contracture has already occurred.
- Enzyme medications
If the fingers have become bent already, the doctors may recommend a mixture of enzymes to be injected in the affected area. These can break up the hard tissue and loosen it. As a result, this treatment can be coupled with stretching, which will further help in straightening the fingers. Enzyme medications are used as an alternative to surgery and most patients may need two injections in the affected joints. The common side effects of this treatment method include swelling, bruising, and pain in the affected area.
- Radiation therapy
An unusual option to treat Dupuytren’s contracture is low-energy radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is also used to treat some types of cancer. In this treatment, the affected area of the palm is exposed to low-energy radiation. This can help prevent worsening the symptoms as the radiation destroys the nodules and lumps developed beneath the skin of the palm.
These forms of treatment are usually used to treat severe symptoms or in cases when it becomes difficult for the patient to grasp objects and carry out daily activities.
- Open surgery
The surgeon makes an incision and either divides or completely removes the fascia, which is the thickened bands of tissue causing Dupuytren’s contracture. A skin graft may also be needed for the incision to heal completely.
- Needle aponeurotomy
It is an alternative to open surgery. In needle aponeurotomy, a surgeon uses a hypodermic needle to divide and cut the diseased tissue in the palms and fingers. The procedure is less invasive and leads to a quicker recovery than open surgery.