Dupuytren’s Contracture Specialist in Atlanta, GA

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Dupuytren’s contracture is caused by a thickening of tissue in the hand. Fibrous bands called fascia, fat, and skin may thicken to the point of constricting movement in your fingers. A variety of factors, including genetic abnormalities and excessive consumption of alcohol and nicotine, may cause this disease. Cubital and radial tunnel syndrome may also affect patients with Dupuytren’s contracture. If you’re experiencing difficulty extending your fingers or numbness in your arm, you may have one of these syndromes.
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Dupuytren’s contracture is most common in males over the age of fifty, though women and children can also develop the disease.

If you believe you have Dupuytren’s contracture or any other upper extremity issue, contact us at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow to schedule a consultation. Our specialists in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia, will work with you to figure out the right treatment plan. 

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture often begin with the development of nodules under the skin in the palm. Over time, the nodules form chords that constrict the movement of fingers.

If you’re having trouble extending your fingers or you feel thick tissue forming in your palm, you may want to consider a visit to your doctor to see if Dupuytren’s contracture is the issue.

Symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture:

  • Nodules in the palm 
  • Thickening of the skin on the palm
  • Constriction of fingers toward the wrist
  • Difficulty extending fingers upward
  • Little to no pain

 

On the other hand, radial tunnel syndrome occurs when the radial nerve compression runs from your elbow to your forearm. Symptoms include pain and tingling in the elbow or forearm. 

Prolonged compression of the radial nerve could lead to nerve damage, so it is important to contact a specialist who can help you diagnose and treat radial tunnel syndrome.  

Symptoms of radial tunnel syndrome:

  • Tingling in the elbow
  • Tingling or numbness in the forearm
  • Pain in the elbow
  • Pain in the forearm
  • Tenderness in the elbow, forearm, or top of the hand

 

Cubital tunnel syndrome happens at the ulnar nerve inside of the elbow joint. In this syndrome, the ulnar nerve is compressed inside of the elbow. 

As a result, people with cubital tunnel syndrome are likely to experience pain in the forearm directly below the elbow joint. Tingling sensations and lack of finger mobility are also associated with cubital tunnel syndrome. 

Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome:

  • Sharp pain in the forearm close to the elbow joint. 
  • Lack of ability to touch the thumb and pinky finger together. 
  • Numb sensation in hand and fingers.
  • Weak feeling in hand and fingers. 

 

The main difference between Dupuytren’s contracture and cubital and radial tunnel syndromes is that Dupuytren’s is a genetic condition, while the others can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their family’s medical history.

How Is Dupuytren’s Contracture Evaluated?

Each evaluation for the above syndromes should start with a thorough medical history. This will let your provider know if there’s any family history with Dupuytren’s contracture, radial tunnel syndrome, or cubital tunnel syndrome. Family history may make it easier for the specialist to diagnose. 

After you provide a medical history, your doctor will likely ask about your symptoms and examine the affected area. The examination may include asking you to put your arm in different positions and describing your pain levels. 

In the case of suspected Dupuytren contracture, an ultrasound will be used to look for thickened tissue in the palm. Sometimes, the specialist will order an X-ray to rule out arthritis or other causes. 

What Are the Treatment Options?

Treatment options will vary depending on your diagnosis. For early-onset Dupuytren’s contracture, your doctor may recommend a regimen of physical therapy exercises. Splinting the hand can also help to stretch the affected fingers. 

For more severe cases of Dupuytren’s contracture, corticosteroids or surgery may be necessary. Surgery entails the removal of the thickened tissue and increases the range of motion. 

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for Dupuytren’s syndrome. Therefore, surgical intervention patients will need continuing treatment even after the tissue is gone. 

Treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome and radial tunnel syndrome is similar. In these syndromes, a specialist will work with you to implement a regime of bracing the affected arm. 

In addition, constricting movement helps to relieve pressure on the nerve, and physical therapy can help decompress the nerve. 

In cases where bracing and therapy fail to relieve the nerve pressure, surgery can help to repair the injury. Fortunately, most people with these syndromes find relief with consistent treatment; surgery is a last resort. 

Living with nerve pain or decreased function in your hand can lower your quality of life. However, if you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms we addressed in this article, there’s a solution waiting for you. Contact us at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow to start your path to recovery.

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD