What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

A hand condition causes extra tissue, nodules, and contractures to develop under the skin. Over time, the Dupuytren’s contracture forms more knots to the point where the fingers become permanently bent. The cause of this condition is unknown and may affect up to 7% of Americans. However, different lifestyle strategies can help patients manage the condition, especially in mild cases.

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Look for these symptoms

The condition causes tightening or contracture of the hands. As a result, the fingers become curled or bent down, restricting the use of the hand. Everyone won't develop bent fingers, but there will be similar symptoms. Thick bands form under the skin, leading to one or more fingers. Other symptoms include reduced grip strength, poor flexibility, and sensitive lumps in the palm. Advanced cases cause one or more fingers to be permanently bent, needing significant force to straighten the digits.

Possible risk factors

Diabetes, liver disease, epilepsy, and alcoholism are the highest risk factors for this disease. Dupuytren's is also more likely to develop in males over 50 of European ancestry. Doctors recommend the tabletop test at home to determine if a patient has the condition. Lay the hand flat on the table. There could be Dupuytren's at play if one or more fingers cannot lay flat or need to be pressed down. The following lifestyle remedies can help patients protect impacted hands long-term.

Start with exercise

Stretching can offer relief and reduce the regression of this condition. For instance, hand exercises with a range of motion allow the skin to maintain some flexibility. Examples are finger lifts, spreads, bends, raises, and hand presses. Make sure to rest as overexerting the muscles and ligaments increases inflammation. Aim for 2-3 times daily spread out over several hours, for 5 days weekly.

Protect your hands

The skin of the palm can create more nodules if continually aggravated. Protecting the hands and relieving pressure will help over time. Wear gloves while gripping or grasping objects such as tools, shopping bags, or heavy objects. The disease is harder to treat when the tender skin becomes irritated. After a long day's work, make sure to massage the hand or use temperature therapy as needed gently.

A healthy diet

A healthy diet can keep Dupuytren's contracture from worsening. Like arthritis, inflammation can speed up symptoms. However, a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables naturally reduces inflammation. Studies show that magnesium and vitamin E also reduce inflammation and taking a daily supplement may help. Make sure to speak with a doctor or pharmacist before taking any supplement.

Avoid smoking and drinking

Living a healthy lifestyle has many benefits, including reducing the risk and severity of Dupuytren's contracture. Smoking and excess alcohol intake are two effective ways to manage these symptoms. Smoking and drinking increase inflammation, muscle loss, and ligament decay. Doctors recommend working with a specialist to make quitting more accessible.

Small steps, big results

Simple steps like healthier eating and exercising help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Removing unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking is also critical for long-term health. If the joint has less than 20-30 degrees bend, these steps can even help avoid surgery. However, if changes fail after several months, consider speaking.

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