Dupuytren is a progressive condition. It begins by a small scar appearing below the skin of the palm. Over time, this scar will continue to grow. As it does, it will pull certain fingers into a curled position. At this point, the condition becomes known as dupuytren contracture.
A lot of people wonder whether this is a condition that will disappear. Sadly, it is not. There are ways to manage the symptoms, but the latter stages of the conditions' development can only be slowed down. This is a condition that will not just disappear. Once the symptoms have started proper, then it is likely that you will be running the risk of dupuytren contracture for the rest of your life.
Since there are two main developmental stages to dupuytren, each with a different prognosis, we want to discuss them separately. If contracture of your fingers has already begun, then you may wish to skip ahead to the second section. THe first section only covers the initial formation of the dupuytren nodules.
Before contracture of the fingers begins to develop, nodules will begin to form on the palm of the hand. This may occur many years before contracture even begins. At this point, dupuytren contracture may not necessarily occur.
One study discovered that under 35% of those with dupuytren nodules at the time the study began had developed dupuytren contracture over 18-years later.
Some patients at this stage may find that the dupuytren nodules may disappear, but this is very rare. In fact,one study found that a little over 10% of cases will result in the spontaneous remission of the dupuytren nodules.
At this point, the condition is incredibly hard to treat. Many doctors will be willing to diagnose the condition, but most will wait until the disease begins to progress into contracture before any treatment is administered. As stated before, the progression to this stage is something that may not necessarily happen.
Yes. They can.
Since dupuytren is a genetic condition, the nodules always have the possibility of returning, even if they have disappeared. Remember, this is a condition that can impact both of your hands. So, while the nodules may have appeared in one of your hands, there is a strong risk that they will begin to appear in your other hand. In fact, they may also appear in other areas of your body. If this happens, there is always the risk that this will develop to full finger contracture eventually.
If the condition has developed into full contracture, then the condition is not going to disappear.Most doctors now believe that the condition is irreversible.
This is a condition that does progress slowly. Due to the slow speed in which the condition develops, often over the course of several years, many people do believe that their dupuytren contracture is healing. For example, there will be times where the inflammation and pain are not quite so bad. As a result, the fingers may start to move back into a slightly more normal position. However, this is always going to be a short-lived respite from dupuytren contracture.
Dupuytren contracture cannot disappear due to the type of condition that it is. This condition, as you know, is characterized by the thickening of the connective tissue just under the skin. As this connective tissue begins to thicken, it will tighten up. This is what results in the fingers beginning to curl around. The problem is the body does not have any 'tools' to deal with that connective tissue hardening. The way the body sees it, this is a completely normal process. It will allow the connective tissue to thicken. In fact, the body will be throwing resources at the issue.
Remember, dupuytren contracture is a genetic condition. While there are certain external factors that may increase the risk of dupuytren contracture occurring, if you do have the condition, you have always been 'hard programmed' to have the potential to develop it from birth. This is why the body does see it as a natural process. It just thinks that it is something that it has to do.
With the right therapeutic methods, the progression of dupuytren contracture can be slowed down. In fact, some people find that it slows down just enough that they never have their hands contract in such a way that it is difficult for them to live their lives. In fact, the majority of people may never progress beyond not being able to straighten their fingers ever so slightly. They will still be able to carry things and use their hands like they could do in the past.
It is worth noting that there is no evidence that these therapeutic methods will work during the early stages of the condition's progression. So, if you only have nodules and they are not painful, no treatment has been known to slow down the progression here. It is only when the contracture begins to start properly that therapeutic methods really begin to work. It is unknown why this occurs. Most doctors will not even pay attention to your condition at this stage. They will likely note that you are suffering from the condition in your medical records, but you probably will not have to see them again for years, if ever.
In the past, the only real way to slow down the progression of the condition would have been through the use of invasive treatments. This may have included the injection of steroids into the impacted area. However, in most cases, invasive treatments are no longer a requirement. Some companies have created creams for slowing down the progression of the disease. These creams can continue to work up until the point that the fingers have become so contracted that it is difficult to live life. However, it is likely that these methods will never allow the condition to advance to that stage, assuming that these methods are used as soon as the contracture begins to start.
Many treatments may help to alleviate some of the symptoms related to dupuytren contracture. This does not just mean the main symptom of the finger curling, but other secondary symptoms that many people do not think about. This includes:
Again, there is still not going to be a cure for these symptoms. They will eventually return. However, many people find that if they stay on top of a proper regime for treatment, the flair-ups will be kept to the minimum. In fact, some people discover that they will often go for many years without any real symptoms beyond their hand not being able to lay completely flat on a surface.
Surgery remains the primary method for dealing with serious dupuytren contracture.One study discovered that around 75% of people were happy with the outcome of their surgery. However,another study suggested that there is no way in which the chances of dupuytren contracture reoccurring are eliminated completely.
That being said, after surgery, the progression of the disease will essentially be slowed down. This means that it may take several more years before somebody with a reoccurance of dupuytren contracture will need to opt for the surgical method. Instead, they may be able to usenon-invasive methods for dealing with dupuytren contracture.
It is worth noting that surgery will always be a last resort when it comes to dealing with the dupuytren contracture. Most doctors will not even consider this method unless the symptoms are so severe that a person cannot function in their day-to-day lives. This is because while surgery can help to ease the symptoms and stop the process for 5-6 years at a time, there is also the risk that the condition can be made worse. For example, there are some people that will walk away from the surgery with tighter hands than they did before. This means that the curling of their fingers will have become a whole lot worse. It is rare, but it is always going to be a possibility.
Dupuytren contracture will not just disappear on its own. Even with invasive surgery, the condition will return. It may take a few years, but it will eventually return. Thankfully, most people will never get to the point where surgery needs to be an option. There are plenty of non-invasive methods of dealing with the condition. This can help to keep the symptoms subdued, and really help to slow down of the progression of the disease. So, while dupuytren contracture is something that you will be dealing with for the rest of your life, with the right management it should be a condition that you never have to worry about.