Skip to content
| Blog

What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture? Can It Be Treated?

If the fingers of your hand begin to curl and you find that you can’t straighten them, you may have Dupuytren’s contracture. Although there is no cure for this condition, there are a number of treatments to slow the progression of the disease. We explain the causes and symptoms of this condition.

We depend on the mobility of our fingers as we move through our day. Nimble digits make it possible to swing a golf club, catch a football, or grip a tennis racket. On a typical day, we take it for granted that we’ll be able to hold a hair dryer, lace our shoes, open doors, drawers, and cabinets, and gather the kitchen utensils we use to whip up breakfast. We expect our hands to respond, and when they don’t, it can be disconcerting.

Dupuytren’s contracture

Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition that can limit hand function by causing one or more fingers to involuntarily curl toward the palm. The little finger and ring finger are most prone to this condition, but all fingers can be affected. The first symptom of Dupuytren’s contracture is the formation of one or more small painful bumps under the skin in the palm. Over time, these bumps thicken and contract. As they toughen, they pull one or more fingers toward the palm. As fingers become more curled over time, they become harder to straighten.

Historical roots

According to historic lore, raiding Vikings brought Dupuytren’s contracture to Northern Europe. Although we can’t vouch for this swashbuckling version of the disease’s origin, there are known instances of the condition noted as early as the 12th and 13th centuries—hundreds of years before it was named in the 19th century. It is most common among patients of Northern European descent. It’s no surprise that we see our share of patients with Dupuytren’s here in Scandinavian-settled Minnesota.

Risk factors

We don’t know what causes this condition, but some of the risk factors have been identified.

Treatment options

Over time in most patients, Dupuytren’s contracture slowly causes one or more fingers to curl down toward the palm. The condition is not dangerous, but it can become increasingly inconvenient over time. Currently, there is no cure for this disease, but we do have a number of treatments to improve finger function and slow the progression. If you notice symptoms, consult a hand specialist to discuss the treatment that is most appropriate for you. This condition needn’t prevent you from enjoying the golf game, tennis match, or gardening that is part of your healthy lifestyle.

If you suspect that you may have inherited more than some colorful tales as part of your Viking ancestry—or if curled fingers make it difficult for you to lay your hand flat on a table, grasp objects, or slide your hand easily into a pocket, we’ll be happy to evaluate your hand and, if appropriate, talk about tailoring a treatment option to your needs.

Summit Orthopedics provides personalized hand and wrist expertise

The function of our hands is integrated through our wrists and arms to our shoulders; a problem anywhere along our arm may have a significant impact on hand function and quality of life. If you experience an injury or uncomfortable symptoms, our fellowship-trained hand and wrist surgeons are here to help. Summit physicians receive the highest levels of training and exclusively provide individualized care for conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow.

Start your journey to better function and less pain. Find your hand expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

More resources for you