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Dupuytren’s Disease

Expert hand therapy for relief from dupuytren’s disease.

Dupuytren’s Disease

What is Dupuytren’s Disease?

Dupuytren’s disease is a progressive hand condition that affects the connective tissue under the skin of the palm and fingers. Named after the French surgeon Baron Guillaume Dupuytren, who described the condition in the 19th century, it leads to the formation of thickened cords and nodules that can cause the fingers to bend inward towards the palm, making it difficult to straighten them completely.

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Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of Dupuytren’s disease is not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to its development:

  • Genetics: A family history of Dupuytren’s disease significantly increases the risk, suggesting a strong genetic component.
  • Age and Gender: It is more common in people over 40 and affects men more frequently than women.
  • Ethnicity: Dupuytren’s disease is more prevalent in people of Northern European descent.
  • Other Conditions: It is often associated with conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, and liver disease.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk.

Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Disease

The symptoms of Dupuytren’s disease typically develop gradually and may include:

  • Nodules: Small lumps or nodules under the skin of the palm that are often painless but can become tender over time.
  • Cords: As the disease progresses, these nodules can develop into thickened cords of tissue that extend into the fingers.
  • Finger Contractures: The cords can pull one or more fingers into a bent position, making it difficult to straighten them. The ring and little fingers are most commonly affected.
  • Difficulty with Hand Function: As the condition worsens, it can interfere with the ability to perform everyday tasks such as gripping objects, shaking hands, or placing the hand flat on a surface.

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Services

We offer a wide range of hand therapy services to help you overcome any hand, wrist or arm injury. Treatment could include rehabilitation exercises to build strength and support, or a custom made splint or cast to help mend your condition.

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We offer a wide range of hand therapy services to help you overcome any hand, wrist or arm injury. Treatment could include rehabilitation exercises to build strength and support, or a custom made splint or cast to help mend your condition.

Specialist Physiotherapists

Looking after your hands is our highest priority. Our Certified Hand Therapist will tailor a treatment plan to your needs and lifestyle. We may need to refer you onto surgical advice or for x-rays or other scans should we need to have a clearer picture of your situation.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing Dupuytren’s disease usually involves a physical examination of the hand, in which a Hand Surgeon or Hand Therapist will assess the presence of nodules, cords, and finger contractures.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

In the early stages of Dupuytren’s disease, non-surgical treatments may be recommended to slow the progression of the disease and improve hand function. These options can include:

  • Enzyme Injections: Collagenase injections can break down the cords of tissue, allowing for improved finger extension.
  • Needle Aponeurotomy: A minimally invasive procedure where a needle is used to divide the thickened cords, improving finger movement.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatments are considered when non-surgical methods are insufficient to manage the contractures or as the contractures progressively worsens. Procedures such as fasciectomy, where the affected tissue is removed, is a common procedure. Depending on the severity of the contractures, surgery may also involve a joint release.

The Role of Hand Therapy

Hand therapists, who may be specialised hand physiotherapists, play an important role in the recovery of Dupuytren’s Disease. 

1. Pre-Surgical Hand Therapy

In the early stages of Dupuytren’s disease, hand therapy can help slow the progression of the disease and maintain hand function. Therapists may use:

  • Stretching Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises can help maintain range of motion and prevent stiffness in the affected fingers and hand.
  • Splinting: Custom splints may be used to stretch the fingers and prevent them from contracting further. These splints are typically worn at night to provide a prolonged stretch.

2. Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

For individuals who undergo surgical treatment for Dupuytren’s disease, hand therapy is essential for optimal recovery. Post-surgical rehabilitation typically involves:

  • Wound Care and Scar Management: Hand therapists provide guidance on wound care to prevent infection and promote healing. Techniques such as scar massage and the use of silicone gel sheets can minimise scar tissue formation and improve the appearance and flexibility of scars.
  • Splinting: Your Hand Surgeon may request for you to wear a thermoplastic hand splint at night. A Hand Therapist can make a custom hand splint tailored to the shape and size of your hand. 
  • Range of Motion Exercises: Hand therapists guide patients through specific exercises to restore flexibility and movement in the fingers and hand. These exercises help prevent post-surgical stiffness and ensure that the hand regains its full range of motion.
  • Strengthening Exercises: As healing progresses, strengthening exercises are introduced to rebuild muscle strength and improve hand function. 
  • Swelling Management: Techniques to reduce swelling, such as sar massage, compression garments, and elevation, are used to manage post-surgical swelling. 

If you need expert treatment for Dupuytren’s disease, get in touch with one of our Sydney hand therapy clinics today. 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

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