Dupuytren’s Contracture is named after a surgeon by the name of Guillaume Dupuytren, who was the first doctor to operate on this condition.
It’s a disease that mostly affects the hands, but is also known to occasionally, albeit rarely, effect the feet too.
Medical journals describe Dupuytren’s as “a progressive fibroproliferative disorder of unknown origin affecting the hands causing permanent flexion contracture of the digits.”
In layman’s terms, Dupuytren’s occurs when the fascia, or tissue under the skin in the palm of the hand, hardens, and nodules grow at the base of the tendons. They usually occur in fingers 4 and 5 of the hand.
The nodule causes the fingers to move inward, toward the palm, and the patient is unable to straighten them fully.
While Dupuytren’s Contracture is considered a permanent disease in that there’s no cure, it’s still manageable in most patients, particularly if caught early. It’s easy for a doctor to diagnose, and it’s common.
In advanced stages of the disease, or when movement in the hand is severely restricted, surgery is usually the only option when it Dupuytren's Contracture treatment. There are other, less invasive options patients may decide to take, but many wonder if there’s anything they could do to both prevent, or slow down the disease.
Nobody truly knows why somebody will develop Dupuytren’s, but it is thought to have a strong genetic link. This means that it often runs in families, and is more like to affect men than women.
It has been traced back to Scandinavia and is more likely to affect white people than those of other races. It’s rare in black and Asian communities.
While there is no definite cause known, there is strong evidence to suggest a link to diabetes, smoking, and excessive alcohol use. It’s also though that those on certain medications, for example those to prevent seizures, are also at a higher risk.
Dupuytren’s can affect both hands, known as Bilateral Dupuytren’s Contracture, although the disease may not progress at the same rate in both hands.
…see your doctor. It doesn’t require an urgent appointment, and there’s no need to visit the emergency room, but early diagnosis can help with early management of the disease, and treatments and advice offered to slow down its development.
It will be advised that if you are a smoke or heavy drinker, you cut down both as much as possibly, and ideally quit. Both cigarettes and alcohol reduce blood flow to the body and can therefore restrict much-needed blood flow to the hands.
It may be that your type of job is making your Dupuytren’s Contracture worse. While it’s not been proven that those in manual labor are at more risk of contracting the disease, its effects can be exacerbated by jobs that require manual digging with a spade, or that result in vibrations from handheld machinery, such as a pneumatic drill or chainsaw.
When a patient has Dupuytren’s they often feel their fingers stiffen easily, even if the disease hasn’t reached an advanced stage. It’s therefore vital that you keep your fingers moving. Stretching the fingers requires more than flexing them a little.
A doctor or physical therapist will be able to advise you properly on the type of stretches you should be doing in order to keep your fingers moving as much as possible.
Massaging the area can help to improve blood flow and break down the stiff cords that tighten around the tendons. Once again, a medical professional will show you the best massaging techniques for the hand.
If you suffer with Bilateral Dupuytren’s, you may need for someone to help massage your hands. Set aside time to give some attention to the joints and tendons daily.
Some have found that special creams and oils aimed at those who suffer with Dupuytren’s have given relief. While more research is needed as to their effects, you may find that an oil or cream aids in massage and keeping the skin above the fascia from becoming too tight.
Research suggests that adding more magnesium to your diet can help slow down the progression of Dupuytren’s Contracture. Magnesium reduces the build-up of calcium, which is the metallic element that can cause the nodule in your palm to stiffen and tighten.
Your doctor may advise taking magnesium supplements in capsule form, but plenty of natural foods are abundant in magnesium, including leafy greens like spinach and seeds from pumpkins and squash.
Other magnesium-rich foods are avocados, lima beans, tuna and brown rice.
It may be that your Dupuytren’s diagnosis has come later, and that it is already advanced. There are still several treatment options available even before invasive surgery under general anaesthetic may be required.
Injections of an enzyme called collagenase clostridium histolyticum have shown promising results in breaking down the cords that cause the finger to be pulled down toward the palm. Other injections, including corticosteroids, are known to reduce inflammation, offering relief and improving mobility of the hand.
Some patients are beginning to be given low radiotherapy treatment, and the results are promising although the treatment is still in its early stages.
… consult your doctor if you think you may have Dupuytren’s Contracture. It is much easier to manage when caught early but even when in a more advanced stage, it can be managed well and many have gone on to enjoy long-term relief from their symptoms.
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