There is a common, but not widely known condition of the hand called Dupuytren’s contracture which can cause problems with straightening the fingers as well as lumps in the palm. The disease is commonly known as “viking’s disease” because it occurs more in people whose ancestors come from northern Europe. It is more common in men, but can occur in women too; it can also be seen in the soles of the feet.
In the past, Dupuytren’s disease was almost always treated with surgery. In response to patients’ desire for other types of treatment, two new treatments have been developed that can be done in an office setting. One involves an enzyme injection, followed by manipulation of the fingers. The other is called a needle aponeurotomy (NA) and involves making multiple punctures of the diseased cords with a small needle and then straightening the fingers. The recovery time for both procedures is minimal and the early results are promising. In my practice, the NA procedure has added a lot to the care of my patients with Dupuytren’s contracture. I learned the technique from Dr. Charles Eaton, a very skilled physician in Florida.
I am hopeful that there will eventually be a medical treatment for this condition, but until then, the new techniques have really changed the treatment of this disease and are decreasing the indications for surgery.
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