While there is no known cause for Dupuytren’s disease, it is usually painless – simply causing an abnormal thickening of the fascia (the tissue between the skin and the tendons in the palm). Though, the tendons are not affected.
The thickening may limit movement of one or more fingers and commonly occurs in both hands. Often times a knot will form beneath the skin, which causes the fingers to bend into the palm and prevents the complete straightening of the fingers. This thickening can also occur over the knuckles of the finger and in the soles of the feet.
More serious forms of the disease may be found in those who develop the disease at a young age, or those who have the disease in other areas.
Dupuytren’s disease occurs slowly and usually starts with a small lump or pit in the palm near the crease of the hand closest to the base of the ring and little fingers. When the cord develops – which could be years following the lump in the palm – it is difficult to place the palm flat on an even surface. The fingers are drawn into the hand as a result of contracture of the fascia near the joints in the fingers (referred to as Dupuytren’s Contracture).
While there is no permanent cure for Dupuytren’s disease, surgical excision of the fibrous bands in the palm have over the years provided temporary relief of the contracture causing the fingers to bend into the palm – restoring use of the fingers. A new minimally invasive procedure developed by a physician in France is today proving promising for Dupuytren patients as well.