Dupuytren’s Contracture

What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

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Dupuytren's contracture is a hand deformity that usually develops slowly, over decades. It affects the fascia, or connective tissue, under the skin of your palm and most commonly affects the ring finger and pinky. Knots of tissue become thickened into nodules or cords that may eventually pull the fingers into the palm. 

Once this occurs, the fingers can no longer be straightened completely, and surgery is the only treatment. The Yale Hand and Microsurgery Program has some of the most skilled surgeons in the country.  

J. Grant Thomson, MD, FRCS, FACS, and Michael Matthew, MD, along with their team of clinical specialists, provide complete care and leading-edge surgical techniques. 

Causes of Dupuytren’s Contracture

Dupuytren's contracture most commonly affects Caucasian males. A strong family history may be present. It can be associated with several diseases, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Alcoholism
  • Peyronie's disease

Dupuytren’s contracture can also occur because of trauma to the hand. However, the vast majority of patients with Dupuytren's contracture have no identifiable cause. 

Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture

Dupuytren’s contracture is usually painless. An early sign may include swelling over the knuckles or knuckle pads. As the fascia, the tough layer of tissue under the skin, becomes thick, the fingers may be pulled into the palm. The fingers most commonly affected are the ring and little fingers. Eventually the joints may become stiff from being in this position. 

If you have Dupuytren’s contracture, you will not be able to place your hand palm down and flat.  

In most cases, the surgeons at the Yale Hand and Microsurgery Program can diagnose Dupuytren's contracture simply by examining your hands.

This list should be used as a guideline. Not every symptom is included. If you or a loved one has one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean that he or she has Dupuytren's contracture. If you are concerned that you or a loved one might have Dupuytren's contracture, please make an appointment with your doctor.

Treatments for Dupuytren’s Contracture

Surgery is the only treatment for this disease. If the contractures or knuckle pads are very mild, you may not require surgery right away. But if you have a loss of function of your hand or worsening of the disease, surgery will be needed. 

At the Yale Hand and Microsurgery Program, our team offers you the latest techniques for surgery of the delicate structures of the hand for a faster recovery. During surgery for Dupuytren’s contracture, the abnormal tissues and nodules are removed.