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Can You Slow Down Or Stop Dupuytren's Contracture?

March 08, 2021

 

If you are one of the fifteen million people over the age of 35 who have some lumpiness in your palm and have been told by your doctor that you may have Dupuytren's Disease, you are probably concerned that you are destined to have a hand deformity.


You will be relieved to learn that there are some things that you can do to ease the effects of your condition. Let's take a look at this disease so that you understand what you are dealing with.


What is Dupuytren's Disease?

Dupuytren's Disease is a hand deformity that develops slowly over time. Nobody knows its specific causes. It is generally believed to be hereditary but that doesn't mean that if one of your parents or grandparents had it that you are predestined to get it, too, because Dupuytren's Disease is known to skip generations.


The first sign of Dupuytren's is when a small hard lump develops in the palm of your hand, most likely near the area where the bottoms of your fingers meet your palm. The lump isn't usually painful, but it is noticeable. When this happens, you want to see your doctor becauseDupuytren's is a progressive disease, which means that it will most likely get worse over time.


What causes Dupuytren's Disease?

While there is no known cause for Dupuytren's and it is therefore believed to be hereditary, there is some evidence that it may be linked to certain other diseases, certain lifestyles, and certain conditions.

For instance, some studies suggest you may be more susceptible if you suffer from diabetes or alcoholism or if you are taking certain seizure medications. Other possible red flags include having nutritional deficiencies in your diet or if you smoke.


If you are in the construction industry or otherwise have a job that involves a lot of vibrations in your hands, you need not be concerned that Dupuytren's is an occupational risk, according to theMayo Clinic.


How does Dupuytren's progress?

Dupuytren's usually progresses very slowly. When it does, it will cause a thick band to form from your palm to one or more of your fingers. The fingers most usually affected by Dupuytren's are your little finger and your ring finger. Sometimes the thumb also contracts.  


This band in your palm develops because Dupuytren's causes an excessive buildup of collagen that in turn causes the connective tissue that is just below the skin of your palm and fingers to thicken. This fibrous connective tissue is called fascia, and it helps stabilize the skin so that it isn't loose. If it were loose, you would have trouble gripping things.


Over time, your thickened fascia can become taut and then begin to contract. When your fascia contracts, it can cause your fingers to involuntarily start to bend inward toward your palm. This is called a flexion contracture. This is why Dupuytren's Disease is also called Dupuytren's Contracture.


Dupuytren's typically affects only one hand. The more aggressive form of this disease is called Dupuytren's Diathesis, which affects both hands and is commonly accompanied by other conditions that affected the fascia. Examples of these other diseases are Peyronie's Disease, which causes curvature of the penis, and Ledderhose's Disease, which is the formation of nodules or contractures in the soles of the feet.


Is Dupuytren's Contracture common?

According to theDupuytren Research Group, about 20% of Dupuytren's sufferers will develop bent fingers.


You can take heart, too, because of the slow progression of Dupuytren's. Contracture occurs very slowly over time for those who experience it. The need for treatment increases by anywhere from 20% to 40% per decade from the time that the first lump or nodule appears.


Is there a way to stop or slow down Dupuytren's Contracture?

Sadly, there is no known way to completely stop the progression of Dupuytren's Contracture. You can, however, take steps to manage it that may well slow its progress to the extent that it is never a serious problem for you.


Remember that what is happening with Dupuytren's Contracture is that the disease is causing your fingers to bend inward toward your palm because of those cords that are tightening because of the buildup of collagen in the fascia in your palms (Palma fascia). 


Effective treatment, then, is a matter of breaking or releasing those cords so that you can return your hand to normal. Your healthcare provider will guide you toward the best plan of attack based on how severe your condition is and other conditions that affect your overall health.


You should always speak with your healthcare professional to determine the best path. Let's take a look at the most common treatments that are either self-administered or involve engaging a medical professional.


Common sense remedies

In all likelihood, you have a mild case of Dupuytren's and so you can deal with your condition without expensive and time-consuming professional medical intervention.

  • Perhaps the best first step - and one of the easiest - is to apply products like a naturalDupuytren cream that are specifically designed to alleviate the discomfort that is associated with Dupuytren's. 
  • You can be a little creative by wrapping the handles of your tools with a little cushioning so that you don't have to grip them as tightly.
  • On the practical side, you can wear some decently padded gloves if you are going to be doing anything that involves serious grasping.

Medical remedies

If these simple remedies don't meet your needs for relief or if your Dupuytren's condition is more advanced, it is time to call your doctor to discuss medical remedies such as these:

  • Injecting enzymes. Your doctor can use this simple procedure to inject enzymes that are intended to break down all that hardened tissue and help dissolve that thickened cord that has formed in your palm. This is usually a two-day process - you'll get the injection on the first day, and on the second day your doctor will attempt to break the stubborn cord and straighten your finger by manipulating your hand.
  • Needling. This is pretty much what it sounds like - the doctor inserts a needle into the hardened cord to separate it and break it up a little. This releases your finger so that you can straighten it out. Sometimes the doctor can even work on more than one finger at a time. Other times, though, needling isn't an option because of possible nerve or tendon damage.
  • Surgery. If your condition has progressed to the point where you have only limited use of your hand, such as when you can't lift, grip, or hold things and perhaps have a hard time even putting your hand in your pocket, your doctor will probably recommend surgery that will remove the tissue from your palm that is affected by the disease. This is the last resort. It is also the most effective means to achieving a complete release. The only downside is that you'll have a longer recovery time and will require physical therapy.

What are the symptoms of Dupuytren's?

The only reliable way to know if you have Dupuytren’s Disease is to consult your doctor. This is important because the symptoms of this disease can often look a lot like the symptoms of other diseases and conditions. Usually, though, you can check yourself out by looking for any of these five signs:


  1. You notice a small lump (also called a nodule) on your palm that is a little tender. You might have more than one lump, or develop additional lumps over time. These lumps are worth paying attention to, even though they will gradually grow less tender.
  2. You observe that the lumps are getting harder or that the skin around the lump starts to pit a little bit because it is being pulled. This may also cause some thick bands to appear that run to one or more of your fingers from your palm.
  3. You will know that your Dupuytren's has moved into the contracture stage if you can no longer lay your hand and fingers flat, palm down, on a surface such as a table or counter top.
  4. You notice that one or more of your fingers are involuntarily pulling toward your palm, or perhaps bending outward.
  5. You become aware that your hand isn't working as well as usual when you try to pick things up or grab things.

Do you always need treatment for Dupuytren's?

You may not need any medical treatment forDupuytren's Disease if:

  • Dupuytren's is progressing very slowly
  • You don't have any pain
  • You can use your hands as you go about your daily business

If so, just pay attention to see if your condition progresses to the point that you start to experience contractures. 


Conclusion

Dupuytren's Contracture is a slow-developing, progressive disease. You can't stop it, but you can treat it. There are practical home remedies and professional medical remedies that may relieve your symptoms. Always consult your doctor if you experience contractures.


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