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Dupuytren's Disease

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What is Dupuytren's disease?

In Dupuytren's (say "duh-pwee-TRAHNZ") disease, tissue under the skin in the palm of your hand, called the palmar fascia, gets thicker and shorter. This can cause your fingers to bend in toward your palm. It most often affects the ring and small fingers, usually of both hands.

The disease may only involve the palm and never affect your fingers. If it gets worse, it may be hard to use your hands.

Dupuytren's disease is also called Viking's disease.

What causes Dupuytren's disease?

What causes it isn't known, but your risk of having Dupuytren's is increased if you:

  • Have relatives who have the disease.
  • Are of northern European heritage.
  • Are male.
  • Are older than 50.
  • Have diabetes or alcoholism.
  • Smoke.

What are the symptoms?

The disease has three general phases:

  • In the early phase, you may see or feel a small lump in the palm of your hand, usually near where your ring finger and small finger meet.
  • In the active phase, you may have dimpling on the skin of your palm. Long, ropey cords or bands form in the fascia. You may be able to see or feel them.
  • In the advanced phase, a fibrous cord may form in the fascia that pulls your fingers toward your palm. This is called Dupuytren's contracture camera.gif. Over time, you won't be able to straighten your fingers or flatten your hand on a table. It may be hard or impossible to do things like put on gloves, wash your hands, or pick up things.

In most cases, Dupuytren's doesn't cause pain. You may not even notice it until you develop a contracture.

The disease usually gets worse slowly. In many people, it never causes major problems.

How is Dupuytren's disease diagnosed?

A physical exam and medical history will usually give enough information for a doctor to decide if you have Dupuytren's disease. Your doctor will:

  • Look for skin changes on your palm and feel for any knots or a cord.
  • Watch you move your hand, wrist, and fingers.
  • Ask questions about your family, your symptoms, any other medical conditions, and your history of tobacco and alcohol use.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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