Dupuytren's Disease or Contracture is a superficial, spontaneously
occuring, benign disorder involving the connective tissue of the hands
and feet. The deformity usually develops slowly over several years and
can eventually lead to the inability to straighten fingers completely
and can complicate doing every day activities such as shaking hands, putting
on gloves and putting your hands in your pockets. Typically Dupuytren's
affecst the two fingers farthest from the thumb or the first and second
toe on a persons foot.
What are the symptoms of Dupuytren's Contracture?
This condition progresses slowly over time and often begins as a thickening
of the skin on the palm of the hand. It can include nodules, pitting of
the skin and rope-like cords. Burning, itching, pressure and pain are
possible. As the disease progresses, the fingers or toes begin to include
Traditional Treatment Options
The primary goal of treatment of Dupuytren's is to slow or prevent
the progression of early stages of the disease. Most of the time the recommendation
would be to "wait and see". Because Dupuytren's is a disease
considered to be never cured, waiting to treat the condition would minimize
the number of treatments a patient might have to undergo in their lifetime.
In addition to watchful waiting, some doctors recommend a regimen of stretching,
splinting and injection of cortisone or an enzyme into the affected tissue.
These methods usually are temporary and in some cases, make conditions
worse or progress more quickly.
Another minimally invasive option is needle aponeurotomy where a doctor
uses a need to make small punctures in the skin and makes small cuts in
the contracted tissue in multiple locations. It's very safe with little
to no risk for complication and it's a lesser expensive option, however,
not every patient has a type of Dupuytren's that will benefit from
this type of procedure and recurrence is common.
Lastly, surgery is the most common form of treatment for this disease.
One advantage of surgical treatment is that even the most advanced form
of Dupuytren's can be treated this way. A major downside is that it
can be painful long after the surgery is performed. An individual may
have bandages or splints for months post surgery as healing can take a
long time. And as with all treatment options listed above, recurrance
is always a possibility as none of them actually address the underlying
condition, Dupuytren's disease.
Role of Radiation in Dupuytren's Disease
A newer form of treatment that has not be widely performed or publicized
for the early treatment of Dupuytren's Contracture is the use of radiation
therapy. Radiation treatment, often used for the treatment of cancers
has been found to successfully delay the progression of the disease in
earlier stages in 75% of cases. It can preserve hand fuction which leads
to delaying the need for surgery in many patients.
While there is no cure for Dupuytren's Disease, radiation therapy offers
hope for early stage disease. It offers a non-invasive, easy alternative
for patients. It is important to talk to a specialist about treatment
options and what might be right for you.
Request an Consultation with a Radiation Specialist
For more information about how Baton Rouge General can help you or a loved
one suffering with Dupuytren's Contracture, click here.