Dupuytren’s contracture is a benign condition that leads to thickening of the palmar fascia of the hand. These thickened cords then start to tighten and can lead to fixed flexion of one or more joints in the affected fingers. Dupuytren’s is an inherited condition that has a variable penetrance, and affects each individual to a differing degree. Whilst there may be associations with smoking, alcohol, epilepsy and trauma among others, none of these actually cause Dupuytren’s contracture.
Dupuytren’s does not need to be treated unless it is causing a functional problem. It is not possible to cure Dupuytren’s contracture and all treatments are aimed at improving function. There is no evidence that treating Dupuytren’s early will improve the long-term outcome, however it does become much harder to treat when there is a very severe contracture. A similar process of thickening can also occur in the knuckles, soles of the feet and the penis, but not all patients have these additional lesions.