This disease can affect hands and feet. It involves a thickening of the tissues on the palm, fingers, and soles of the feet as well. Essentially, the tissue begins to thicken on the palms and then moves on to the fingers. It generally creates Dupuytrens contracture, which means cording in the finger contracts, keeping it bent oddly. In addition to the palms of the hands, the disease can also cause thickening on the front of the hands, resulting in nodules or lumps on the knuckles.
Doctors dont really know what causes the problem, but it does occur more in men over the age of 40. It has also been connected to people with northern European ancestors. Some believe that injury or certain types of jobs can contribute to the development of the condition, but there is no actual scientific research to prove this.
The symptoms of Dupuytrens disease include lumps and pitting in the palm of the hand. The lumps have a firm feel to them and cording may develop that runs from the palm to different fingers. Generally, the disease affects the ring and little fingers the most, but it can develop in any of the fingers. Many people may see the cords and assume they are contracted tendons, but that is not the case. In fact, the tendons and underlying tissues are rarely affected by the disease.
Here are some other things to note about the presentation of the disease:
- It usually affects both hands to some degree.
- It is not a painful disease.
- Fingers will slowly be drawn more to the palm, making it hard to place a hand flat on a table, wear gloves, or do other things with the hands.
Some people experience nothing more than a few small lumps. However, some people experience fingers bent to the point of deformity. At this point, doctors do not really have a way to predict how the disease will progress and why it progresses so differently from one patient to the next.
How Is It Treated
Generally, nothing will be done if the disease is very mild. However, if the patient cannot straighten the fingers and this is interrupting their quality of life, then there are treatments available.
Surgery can be used to remove the nerves from the cords where they have likely become intertwined. In many cases, a skin graft will need to be performed in order to replace skin in areas where there is simply not enough. There are times when it is impossible to completely correct the problem, but the fingers can be straightened to some extent. After surgery, the patient will need to wear a splint for a while to ensure the hand stays in the proper position for healing.
While Dupuytrens disease may not be very common, it can be a frustrating condition since it can seriously affect the use of your hands, especially if it grows too severe. While you may not experience pain, it is still a good idea to visit a doctor.