What Is Dupuytren’s Disease?

Dupuytren’s disease is a genetic condition that affects about 5% of adults in the United States. This condition gradually causes the normally smooth sheet of tissue underneath the skin of the palm and fingers to become nodular and cordlike. Ultimately the fingers become bent, stiff and contracted. When the fingers are bent enough to causes problems, treatment is usually required. Typical problems include the inability to flatten the palm on a tabletop, inability to easily shake hands, put on gloves or even put your hand into your pocket. As you can imagine this disease not only causes disfigurement, but also a sometimes severe loss of mobility and function. This loss of function is often the worst part of Dupuytren’s Disease.

The New Non-Surgical Treatment for Dupuytren’s Contracture.

In the past, techniques for treating this condition have all been surgical. While usually effective, surgery is not without risks and includes an extended recovery time. Typically surgical recovery takes about 6 weeks including frequent occupational therapy. This means that not only do patients need to go through the pain of surgery, but a long, drawn out and sometimes painful recovery process. Thankfully there is now another way.

Xiaflex was released last year by the FDA for non-surgically treating Dupuytren’s contracture. This new injection, based in an enzyme, breaks down the diseased tissue allowing the finger to be easily manipulated into a straighter position. The first day the medicine is injected into the diseased ‘cord’ of tissue. On the following day the finger is manipulated straight. The straightening of the fingers is done under only a local anesthetic injection, similar to what a dentist uses. As you can imagine, for many afflicted with this this treatment is a preferable option to a long, and sometimes painful, surgical recovery.

What To Expect From This Non-Surgical Procedure

Experience has shown that immediately starting normal hand use is important. The only time normal hand use is paused is at night when a splint that holds the finger straight is applied. The initial studies have showed tremendous success with this medicine; without a trip to the operating room and without frequent visits to the occupational therapist. Patients usually experience an incredible increase in mobility and function.

Of course no treatment is without risk. The risks and benefits of this drug are individualized and must be discussed with a hand surgeon who is comfortable administering this drug. Here at IBJI, our hand surgeons were among the first in the country to administer this drug. Now with a wealth of experience, more than any other group in the Chicagoland area, people with Dupuytren’s contracture are living life to the fullest with normal use of their hands without surgery.

How Can You Get This New Dupuytren Treatments

If you or your loved ones are struggling with Dupuytren’s disease, please make an appointment with one of the hand subspecialists at IBJI to discuss this exciting non-surgical treatment of Dupuytren’s contracture. We look forward to help you start living a normal fully functional life.

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