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Dupuytren's Contracture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is Dupuytren's contracture?

Dupuytren's contracture occurs when tissues in your hand thicken. The thickened tissue may form cords that extend from your palm to your finger. The cords may shorten, and your palm or finger may become stuck in a bent position. Dupuytren's contracture may occur in one or both of your hands. It is more common in the right hand and the ring or little fingers.

What increases my risk for Dupuytren's contracture?

  • Smoking
  • Older age
  • Family history of the condition
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes or seizures
  • Alcohol use
  • Hand trauma

What are the signs and symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture?

  • Thickened skin on your palm
  • One or more raised or firm lumps under the skin of your palm or finger
  • Changes on your palm, such as dimples or pitting
  • A thick, firm cord of tissue on your palm or finger
  • Decreased movement and flexibility
  • One or more fingers bent toward your palm

How is Dupuytren's contracture diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your hand and count any lumps you may have. He or she may measure the angle of your bent fingers. He or she will ask you to place your palms flat on a table to see how much you can straighten them.

How is Dupuytren's contracture treated?

You may not need treatment if your symptoms are mild. If your fingers become bent or you have difficulty using your hand, you may need any of the following:

  • A steroid or enzyme injection may help decrease inflammation and straighten your finger.
  • Surgery may be needed to divide or remove the thickened tissue that is causing the contracture. Ask for more information about surgery.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Go to physical or occupational therapy. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to improve movement and strength.
  • Stretch your fingers. Bend them backward from your palm to straighten them.
  • Use heat and massage. Apply heat on your hand and gently massage your fingers and palm.
  • Wear your splint as directed. You may need to wear a splint to help straighten your fingers.
  • Limit alcohol. Ask how much alcohol you should drink.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can make your symptoms worse. Ask your provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your provider before you use these products.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain in your hand.
  • You cannot use your hand at all.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • There is a new lump, dimple, or dent on your palm or finger.
  • You have a pocket of fluid under your skin.
  • Your palm or finger becomes bent again.
  • You feel tingling or a pricking feeling on your hand.
  • You have trouble straightening your finger or palm.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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