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Dupuytren's Contracture

Dupuytren's Contracture

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 contractures.

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.