Dupuytren's disease

Dupuytren's disease takes its name from Baron Guillaume Dupuytren, a celebrated French surgeon who first described the condition in 1831.

Dupuytren's disease, also referred to as Dupuytren's contracture, is commonly found in individuals with northern European ancestry.  In addition to these inherited components, there may also be an association with other soft tissue diseases, trauma or surgery.

The first sign of Dupuytren's disease is often a lump or nodule in the palm of the hand, commonly at the base of the little or ring finger.  This may be followed by an indentation in the skin, known as a dermal pit, which occurs as the connective tissue fibres contract.  Later, a cord, known as a longitudinal fibrous band, may form and extend from the palm into the finger/s.  This cord can pull the finger joints into a flexed (bent) position and hand function may become compromised as the fingers become more flexed.  The speed and nature of this process varies considerably between individuals.

Treatment of Dupuytren's disease involves release of the contracted tissue.  This may be with surgery, or for less severe contractures, with a collagenase injection.  The aim of both interventions is to regain maximal hand function rather than curing the disease; therefore treatment may be delayed until some deformity has developed or hand function becomes affected.  Your hand surgeon will discuss treatment options and expected outcomes with you.

Following collagenase or surgical treatment, you will be referred to a hand therapist with our Centre for Clinical Physiotherapy.  Your therapist will fabricate a splint to hold your finger straight and will provide appropriate movement exercises.

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