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What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a disease that can lead to limited use of your hand. This may happen when certain tissue in the palm thickens. While it often doesn’t cause pain, it can make it hard to straighten your fingers. The only way to treat Dupuytren’s is surgery. It’s not a cure, but it can help you regain a better range of finger motion.

Palm of hand showing palmar fascia with Dupuytren's Contracture. Ring and little fingers are bent. Nodules are at base of ring and little fingers. Closeup of palm of hand showing nodules under skin of little and ring fingers.

Inside your hand

Your palm contains a tough, fibrous layer of tissue called the palmar fascia. It forms a protective barrier between your skin and tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone). The fascia gives your palm a flexible firmness.

When the fascia thickens

For reasons not fully known, the palmar fascia can thicken. When this happens, it contracts (pulls in). Small, hard knots called nodules may form just under the skin near the base of the fingers. Hard bands also may form across the palm. Nodules, bands, and the contracting palmar fascia can make your fingers (especially the ring fingers and little fingers) bend toward your palm.

Who gets it?

People whose families come from northern European countries are the most likely to get Dupuytren’s contracture. Symptoms most often appear in 50- to 60-year-old men. But some women also may have this problem.

The road to healing

By doing your exercises and wearing a splint if needed, you can speed up recovery. It may take a few weeks after surgery before you have use of your hand. But with time, you will regain most of your hand function.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture start slowly. They can steadily progress. But they also may stop before they limit hand use. A hard lump forming on your palm, inability to place your palm flat on a surface, or fingers bent toward your palm are a few of the signs and symptoms.

Online Medical Reviewer: Banerjee, Rahul, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/8/2015
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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