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Dupuytren's contracture

Dupuytren's contracture is when 1 or more fingers bend in towards your palm. There's no cure, but your fingers can be straightened if it's severe.

Check if you have Dupuytren's contracture

Dupuytren's contracture mainly affects the ring and little fingers. You can have it in both hands at the same time.

It tends to get slowly worse over many months or years. Treatment cannot usually help in the early stages.

White hand held out flat, with middle finger sticking upwards slightly and a raised ridge along the palm below it.
It starts with lumps, dimples or ridges on your palm.
White right hand held out flat with ring finger bent in towards the palm.
Eventually, your finger may get stuck in a bent position.
If you're not sure it's Dupuytren's contracture

Other conditions can have similar symptoms.

Other conditions that have similar symptoms
Symptom Possible cause
Small, soft lump on the wrist or finger joints ganglion
Hard, raised, rough skin on the palms calluses
Finger "catching" or getting stuck when you move it trigger finger

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if 1 or more of your fingers are bent and:

  • you cannot put your hand down flat
  • you're having difficulty with daily activities

You'll probably be offered treatment. The GP may refer you to a surgeon to discuss your options.

Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during COVID-19

Information:

You can ask to be referred to a hospital of your choice.

Find and compare hospitals for Dupuytren's contracture

Treatments for Dupuytren's contracture

Speak to a specialist about the options, what the benefits and risks are, and what to expect afterwards.

Your finger may not be completely straight after treatment, and might not be as strong and flexible as it used to be.

The contracture could also come back after a few years.

There are 3 main types of treatment.

Surgery to straighten the fingers

Fasciectomy

A cut is made along your palm and finger so the surgeon can straighten it.

  • general anaesthetic (you're asleep) or local anaesthetic (your hand is numbed)
  • you can leave hospital the same day
  • recovery time: 4 to 12 weeks
  • lowest risk of contracture coming back
  • risks include bleeding, numbness and infection

Using a needle to straighten the fingers

Needle fasciotomy

A needle is inserted into several places along your palm and finger to loosen and straighten it.

  • local anaesthetic (your hand is numbed)
  • you can leave hospital the same day
  • recovery time: up to 2 weeks
  • contracture more likely to come back than with surgery
  • risks include a cut opening up in your skin, pain and numbness

Using surgery and a skin graft to straighten the fingers

Dermafasciectomy

Similar to a fasciectomy, except an additional area of skin is removed; a skin graft from elsewhere in the body can be used to replace the removed skin.

  • general anaesthetic (you're asleep) or local anaesthetic (your hand is numbed)
  • 2 procedures are needed – 1 to straighten the fingers and then around 4 days later, another procedure to add the skin graft
  • contractures less likely to come back than with a standard fasciectomy but recovery times can be longer
  • risks include bleeding, numbness and infection

Causes and preventing Dupuytren's contracture

Dupuytren's contracture happens when the tissue under the skin near your fingers becomes thicker and less flexible.

The exact cause is unknown, but it's been linked to:

  • having a family history of the condition
  • smoking
  • drinking lots of alcohol
  • having diabetes or epilepsy

It's not known if you can prevent it or stop it coming back.

Page last reviewed: 15 June 2021
Next review due: 15 June 2024