BATON ROUGE, La. – While most have heard the term “trigger
finger,” there is a similar, lesser known condition affecting the
fingers called “Dupuytren’s contracture.” Dr. Andrew
Lauve has treated 15 patients at Baton Rouge General’s (BRG) Pennington
Cancer Center with simple, painless radiation therapy to slow or even
reverse the progression of early stage Dupuytren’s of the hands or feet.
Dupuytren’s contracture falls under the broader category of Dupuytren
disease, a systemic problem affecting the hands and feet of at least 10
million Americans. It progresses slowly, usually doesn’t hurt, and
leaves some people with their fingers permanently bent.
“When the fingers can't be straightened completely, it can complicate
everyday activities and affect a person’s quality of life, with
the potential to be debilitating in the advanced stages,” said Dr.
Lauve, a radiation oncologist at BRG’s Pennington Cancer Center.
While trigger finger involves the tendon, Dupuytren's contracture involves
the underlying tissue, called the palmar fascia. Knots of tissue form
under the skin, eventually creating a thick cord that can pull one or
more fingers into a bent position. It mainly affects the two fingers farthest
from the thumb and is often mistaken for arthritis or tendonitis.
People who are not experiencing pain or losing any function as a result
of Dupuytren’s may opt to take the “wait and see” approach.
But, radiation therapy is most effective during this early stage and has
proved to be a viable alternative to other therapies, softening the affected
tissue and helping to eliminate inflammation and tightness.
Depending on the severity of the contracture, there are various traditional
treatments for Dupuytren’s, including needling, collagenase injections
and surgery. Surgical removal of the affected tissue is typically the
option for people with advanced symptoms and results in a longer recovery,
physical therapy and sometimes, a skin graft.
“The standard interventions we’ve seen for Dupuytren’s
contracture can be difficult on the patient and oftentimes don’t
work well,” said Dr. Lauve. “With radiation therapy, patients
are treated with five quick treatments, then after two months, treated
with five more.”
In most cases, doctors can diagnose Dupuytren's contracture by the
look and feel of the hand, sometimes checking to see if a person can put
their hand flat on a tabletop. It’s not clear what causes it, but
some groups are at an increased risk, including men over the age of 50,
people of Northern European descent, those with a family history or diabetes,
and tobacco users.
For more information on treating Dupuytren’s with radiation therapy, visit
here or call (225) 763-4300.
About Baton Rouge General Medical Center
Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the area’s first community
hospital with 588 licensed beds between two campuses. Baton Rouge General
opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community
with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital
since 1991, Baton Rouge General serves as an affiliate of Tulane University
School of Medicine, and offers other medical education programs, including
a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine
Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine
Fellowship Program. For more information, visit
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