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Dupuytren's Disease


Topic Overview

What is Dupuytren's disease?

Dupuytren's (say "duh-pwee-TRAHNZ") disease can change how your hand looks and may make it hard or impossible to use one or more of your fingers.

The disease causes tissue under the skin of the palm of your hand to thicken and shorten. This can pull and bend the fingers in toward the palm. You may not be able to straighten them.

See a picture of a hand with Dupuytren's diseaseClick here to see an illustration..

The disease gets worse slowly but rarely causes pain. You can treat it, but there is no cure. It may only involve the palm and never affect your fingers, and you may never need treatment.

Dupuytren's disease occurs most often in people ages 50 and older. It often affects both hands and can sometimes affect the soles of the feet.

Dupuytren's disease is also called Viking's disease.

What causes Dupuytren's disease?

The cause of Dupuytren's disease is not known. It might be inherited, because the disease tends to happen in families. The thickening of the tissue may be related to alcoholism, smoking, or diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

You may first see or feel a small lump in the palm of your hand, usually near where your ring finger and small finger meet.

As Dupuytren's disease gets worse, a fibrous cord may develop in the tissue of the palm. The cord may extend to one or more fingers, usually the ring or small finger. The cord may pull your finger toward your palm. This is called Dupuytren's contracture.

At some point you may not be able to move your fingers back or flatten your hand on a table. You may find it hard or impossible to do things like put on gloves, wash your hands, or pick up things.

The disease usually does not cause pain. If you do have pain, it's most likely when you first get the disease.

How is Dupuytren's disease diagnosed?

Your doctor will look for skin changes on your palm and feel for any knots or a cord. He or she will ask you to move your hand, wrist, and fingers. Your doctor will ask you questions about your family and your symptoms. Your doctor also will ask you about smoking and alcohol use.

How is it treated?

The goal of treatment for Dupuytren's disease is to keep your hand working as best as it can.

  • When you first get the disease, your doctor may have you try finger stretches, a splint, or steroid shots.
  • Some doctors are using a treatment called needle aponeurotomy to separate the tight cords in the palm using a needle.
  • A medicine called collagenase (such as Xiaflex) may be injected to try to dissolve some of the tight tissue.
  • Surgery may be recommended if you cannot straighten your fingers or pick things up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about Dupuytren's disease:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

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