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  • Chris Moore, OTR

Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Recently a lot of emphasis is being placed on this condition. There are commercials on the TV, the Internet and news articles. A while ago, John Elway was advertising a new treatment for his hands using a prescription medicine instead of surgery. It is important to understand what Dupuytren’s is and who can help you as there are early and late stages to consider.

Who gets Dupuytren’s

The Vikings brought it to the Scandinavian countries and then it traveled to

Scotland and Ireland. The symptoms most often appear in 50-60 year old men although some women may also develop the symptoms.  

Dupuytren’s contracture is a progressive disease that causes a buildup of collagen under the skin and forms a rope-like cord that wraps around the palmar fascia. The palmar fascia forms a protective barrier between your skin and tendons which gives your palm a flexible firmness.

For unknown reasons, the palmar fascia can thicken. When this happens, it pulls the fingers into a flexed position. Small, hard knots called nodules may form underneath the skin near the base of the fingers. Hard bands may also form across the palm. Nodules, bands, and the contracting palmar fascia can make your fingers bend towards your palm. The ring and little finger are most often affected. 

When this occurs using your hands for simple tasks become difficult such as shaking hands, putting upper body clothing on, getting into pants pockets and more.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Hard lumps forming on your palms

  • unable to place your palm flat on a surface

  • fingers bent toward your palm

  • scar like bands forming across your palm


What is the treatment?

Treatment may include surgery or a prescription medication called Xiaflex, which can have serious side effects. It is important to see a hand orthopedist to evaluate your hands to ensure it is Dupuytren’s. It may not be necessary to do any treatment if your fingers are not bending and you can still do your daily activities.

Can Occupational Therapy Help?

An Occupational therapist can design a home program for you including exercises and stretches, which will help and assist you to keep your fingers straight. Ask your physician for a referral to OT and have your hands assessed and treated.

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