Dupuytren’s disease

This is caused by an abnormal thickening of the fascia that may limit the movement of one or more fingers. In some cases, a cord forms beneath the skin that causes fingers to bend into the palm so they cannot be fully straightened. The disease can also cause thickening over the knuckles and it can also occur in the soles of the feet. Dupuytren’s disease mostly affects white people with ancestors from Northern Europe. It occurs more often in men than in women and usually starts after age 40. In many cases, the disease runs in families. It is also associated with excess alcohol consumption, diabetes and liver disease. Symptoms onset slowly and are usually noticed as a small lump or pit in the palm. The disease is most noticeable when the palm of the hand cannot be placed flat on an even surface. Treatment can include steroid injections or surgery to relieve the bending of the fingers to restore use. Sometimes splints are used after surgery to keep fingers straight and a hand therapist may also help with postoperative care to control swelling and to help with finger motion. However, it is important to appreciate that there is no guaranteed permanent cure for Dupuytren’s disease and the condition may return with time.

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    Katherine Butler is the hand therapist for The London Orthopaedic Clinic and is based at King Edward VII’s Hospital. She was presented to HRH The Prince of Wales at The Royal Society of Musicians as he opened the Society’s new building in London. Katherine is an Honorary Associate Professor at UCL and Plymouth University and […]