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Pain Management Health Center

Dupuytren's Contracture: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Diagnosing Dupuytren's Contracture

Your health care provider will examine your hands, wrists, and fingers. Diagnosis of Dupuytren's contracture typically involves feeling the palm areas to check for nodules and recording how many nodules are found. Your doctor will likely ask you to try to place your hands flat on a table.

Tests may also be done to:

  • See how well you can grasp items with your hands.
  • See how well you can pinch items with your fingers.
  • Measure the feeling in your thumbs and fingers.
  • Determine your range of motion in your fingers, to see if you can straighten them all the way.

These exams and tests will be repeated over time to determine if the condition is getting worse.

How Is Dupuytren's Contracture Treated?

There is no cure for Dupuytren's contracture. However, the condition is not life threatening, and it may not cause a person discomfort for many years, if ever. Some patients never need treatment, just monitoring.

If the condition is painful or interferes with a person's daily activities, treatment may be helpful. Treatment includes medication and surgery.

It's important to note that finger splints do not help patients with Dupuytren's contracture and may even be harmful. Stretching the finger forcefully can actually speed up the inward curling of the finger.

Medication for Dupuytren's Contracture

If a nodule is extremely tender, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection, also called a steroid shot. A corticosteroid is a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine, which reduces swelling and inflammation. It may help ease your pain and in some cases may prevent finger contractures from getting worse, but won't straighten your finger if you already have a contracture. You might need a series of shots to see long-term results.

If your fingers are already bent, Xiaflex, a mixture of enzymes that help dissolve the thick and tight tissue may be injected into the affected area by your doctor. This weakens the tight bands and may allow your doctor to then stretch the tightened area. The most common side effects seen with Xiaflex are swelling, bleeding, bruising, or pain at the injection site. Rarely, tendon or ligament damage may occur that requires surgery to fix. Your doctor can help you determine if enzyme injections or surgery is right for you.

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