Dupuytren’s contracture

Dupuytren’s contracture

Dupuytren’s contracture (also known as palmar fibromatosis) is a common benign condition that forms hard nodules in the palmar fascia just beneath the skin of the palm of the hand, commonly affecting the ring or little finger. They can extend to form cords that cause your fingers to pull into a bent position.
This is a familial condition and whilst you may not be cured of the tendency to form contracture, the nodules and bands of tissue can be excised or released to allow restoration of function.

At Schoen Clinic London we specialise in the treatment of hand diseases. Your specialist will discuss together with you the alternatives to relieve your symptoms and what can you expect after your treatment.

What is Dupuytren’s disease?

Dupuytren’s disease is a familial condition in most cases, usually inherited from one of your parents. It is most common in Scandinavia and it is often said that it was the Vikings who spread the gene. It is often not a serious condition but can be quite debilitating when the contractures are severe.

Dupuytren's disease not only occurs in the palm of the hand, but it can also affect other parts of the body such as the back of the finger knuckles (Garrod's pads or knuckle pads) and on the sole of the foot (Ledderhose disease).

Dupuytren’s disease is more common in middle-aged men of Viking descent and often runs in families.


Dupuytren’s contracture is a clinical diagnosis and does not usually require any specific investigation to confirm. In rare circumstances with unusual symptoms, imaging in the form of ultrasound may help in differentiating diagnoses.

Symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture

Dupuytren's contracture often begins with swellings in the palm, stiffness, and an inability to straighten the fingers.

The nodules are sometimes uncomfortable on pressure in the early stages. In about one in three people, the nodules form cords that pull the finger towards the palm and prevent it straightening fully. Without treatment, one or more fingers may become involved. Finger contracture is slow and usually occurs over months and years.

What are the causes of Dupuytren’s contracture?

Although the cause is still unknown, Dupuytren's contracture may be associated with the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High alcohol consumption
  • It does not appear to be associated with manual work
  • It can appear after an injury to the hand or after surgery to these areas