Dupuytren’s contracture causes abnormal tightening or thickening of the palmar fascia, or the connective tissue that’s just beneath the skin in the palm.
Also known as palmar fibromatosis or Dupuytren’s disease, this hand problem can lead to permanent hand and finger impairment if left untreated.
What Are the Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture?
A firm lump in your palm is the first sign of Dupuytren’s disease. The nodule may be uncomfortable or sensitive to the touch; however, pain is not usually associated with this condition.
Over time, additional nodules may appear. Eventually, palm lumps can develop into thick cords, affecting one or more of the fingers. As these tissue cords grow tighter, the affected fingers are pulled in toward the palm. Eventually, it may be difficult or even impossible to straighten the fingers.
The pinky and ring fingers are most commonly affected with palmar fibromatosis, and the condition is often present in both hands.
What Causes Dupuytren’s Contracture?
No one really knows what causes Dupuytren’s contracture, but a family history of the condition does increase the likelihood of developing this hand problem. And some evidence indicates that patients of northern European descent have an increased risk of developing palmar fibromatosis.
Dupuytren’s disease is also more common in men and patients over age 40. Smoking, alcohol use and diabetes are also known risk factors of this hand condition.
How Do Hand Doctors Treat Dupuytren’s Contracture?
For mild cases of palmar fibromatosis, a hand doctor may recommend conservative treatments, such as physical therapy or injections of corticosteroid medicine or collagenase.
An aponeurotomy can also be an effective treatment for Dupuytren’s disease. With this procedure, a small needle is inserted into the affected area, which works to separate the thickened tissue cords and restore finger function.
For more severe cases where patients cannot extend their fingers, hand surgery may be advised. The surgical procedure, called a fasciectomy, removes segments of the palmar fascia.
Dupuytren’s disease is unpredictable, and even after hand surgery, the problem can recur. Roughly half of the patients who suffer palmar fibromatosis find that the condition returns within about 10 years after surgical treatment.
If you have a lump in your palm, prompt attention from an experienced hand doctor is essential to prevent the condition from getting worse. In northern Utah, schedule a consultation with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence.
As one of the region’s leading experts in hand, finger and wrist disorders, diseases and injuries, Dr. Burrows can provide a diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. Contact our West Valley City office today to schedule a Dupuytren’s contracture evaluation for a lump in your palm.