Getting under the skin of Dupuytren’s disease
Dupuytren’s disease is a progressive condition which affects the connective tissue in the palm of the hand and fingers.1 Over time it can gradually advance into Dupuytren’s contracture (one of the symptoms of Dupuytren’s disease), where the affected finger or fingers permanently bend inwards into the palm of the hand.2 Although not life-threatening, it can be life-limiting.
Dupuytren’s disease starts with a build up of cells in the palm of the hand which leads to small lumps appearing under the skin.3 These lumps are benign (non-cancerous) and usually painless. If the disease progresses, collagen (a natural protein that is found in many tissues throughout the body) is produced.
As more and more collagen continues to build up, it may eventually form into a rope-like cord under the skin.3 This cord extends from the palm into the finger. The shape of the cord can sometimes be seen under the skin when trying to stretch out the affected finger. Over time, as the cord pulls the finger permanently toward the palm. This bend in the finger is called a contracture and can reduce the ability to move and straighten the finger.
- Hurst LC et al. N Engl J Med. 2009;361:968–979
- Shih B and Bayat A. Nat Rev Reumatol. 2010,6(12):715-726
- Townley WA et al. BMJ. 2006;332:397-400