The first symptom of Dupuytren's contracture (Dupuytren's disease) is usually the growth of small lumps of tissue called nodules on the palm of your hand.

You may also notice:

  • unusual dimples on your palm
  • thickening of the skin on your palm
  • tenderness around your palm

Over time, usually months or years, bands of contracted (shortened) tissue called cords can develop in your hand and you may find you can't straighten your fingers as much as you used to be able to.

The ring finger is most commonly affected by Dupuytren's contracture, followed by the little finger and then the middle finger. In rare cases, the condition also affects the toes and the soles of the feet.

The condition can affect one or both hands. In cases where only one hand is affected, problems usually develop in the right hand, regardless of whether you're left- or right-handed.

As Dupuytren's contracture progresses, your fingers may eventually be pulled into a permanently bent position. This can make it difficult to perform activities such as swimming, playing a guitar or shaking someone's hand.

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP if you notice the symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture. They can examine your hand and may refer you to a hand specialist, who can assess whether treatment is necessary.

Read more about diagnosing Dupuytren's contracture.

Page last reviewed: 29/05/2015
Next review due: 29/05/2018