After sending out a post about Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Trigger Finger, and Carpal Tunnel (some of the more common hand diseases), I decided I probably should at least address another disease of the hands – Dupuytren’s Contracture.
According to the Mayo Clinic – “Dupuytren’s (du-pwe-TRANZ) contracture is a hand deformity that usually develops over years. The condition affects a layer of tissue that lies under the skin of your palm. Knots of tissue form under the skin — eventually creating a thick cord that can pull one or more fingers into a bent position.”
Dupuytren’s Contracture is a condition that affects one or more fingers to become permanently bent in a fixed position. The fingers usually affected are the little finger, the ring finger, and the middle finger. Beginning as small hard nodules just under the skin of the palm of the hand, it will worsen over time until the finger(s) can no longer be straightened. Fortunately, usually it’s not painful but can cause some aching or itching. It is yet another hand condition that I started to suffer from since 2016. For me, it has been a very slow progression of this condition which can cause the affected fingers to become restricted to the point of closing your hand so it makes it almost impossible to do routine tasks! As it progresses, it can limit your ability to fully open your hand to grasp large objects or to get your hand into narrow spaces.
Doctors don’t know the cause of this hand condition, as there is no evidence that injuries or occupations cause the condition. It mostly affects adults over the age of 50 and is typically a male dominated condition, however, females are also at risk if they have thyroid issues, diabetes, liver disease or are heavy smokers or drinkers. It affects white people and is rarely found in Asians and African populations. People of Norther European descent are at higher risk of this disease and it also runs in families. It’s also known as the Viking disease. It is named after Guillaume Dupuytren, who first described the underlying mechanisms of the disease in 1833.
Symptoms typical of Dupuytren’s contracture include a thickening of the skin on the palm of the hand. It is generally a slow progressing disease, but as it progresses, the skin might appear puckered or dimpled. Firm lumps of tissue can form on the palm of the hand which might present as sensitive to the touch, but isn’t usually painful. As the disease progresses cords of tissue form under the skin and can extend up to the fingers. As the cords tighten, the fingers might be pulled toward the palm (sometimes severely). The most common fingers affected are the pinky, ring, and middle fingers and rarely are the thumb and index fingers affected. It can affect both hands though one hand is usually affected more severely.
There are 3 types of Dupuytren’s disease: Type 1 is a very aggressive form that affects about 3% of people with it. It’s often associated with knuckle pad symptoms and “Ledderhose disease” (or plantar fibromatosis which typically affects the feet), and is sometimes known as Dupuytren’s diathesis; Type 2 is a more normal type of Dupuytren’s usually only found in the palm and can be made more severe by other factors such as diabetes or heavy manual labour; and Type 3 is a mild form of Dupuytren’s common amongst diabetics or it can be caused by certain medications such as anticonvulsants taken by those suffering with epilepsy (or in my case my Propranolol that I take for my tremors!).
Some exercises that can be done for Dupuytren’s are as follows: Towel grippers; gentle finger flexes; palm lifts; and finger isometrics. I won’t go into describing these as you can see them by going to Livestrong.com. I’m hoping this isn’t necessary for any of you, but you never know.
Treatment for this hand condition is typically steroid injections into the affected area and physical therapy. Those whose condition worsens have either clostridial collagenase injections or surgery.
I have to say that I really didn’t expect any of this, but it is what life has handed to me, so I will have to live with whatever comes my way. I’m doing everything in my power to change what I can and just accept what I can’t. Making changes to my lifestyle starting back in 2014 has helped me to manage with some of these things, but I’m not sure it can help everything, so I just pray that nothing else comes up to surprise me!
Have a wonderful rest of your day and week ahead.