Dupuytren’s Contracture vs Trigger Finger

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Our hands are the doorway to many activities. They consist of many intricate parts that allow us to move our fingers. However, some conditions make it difficult for us to use our fingers in the way we would like. Dupuytren’s contracture and trigger finger are two types of these conditions.
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Our eight surgeons, thirteen therapists, and many helpful nurses at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow are ready to assist you if you suspect that you have one of these conditions. We have two offices conveniently located in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia. Schedule an appointment with us today!


What Is the Difference Between Trigger Finger and Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Though both trigger finger and Dupuytren’s contracture affect your fingers, there are some differences. The differences are as follows:

  • Trigger finger involves the tendons, whereas Dupuytren’s contracture involves the tissue.
  • Generally, trigger finger affects your thumb and ring finger. Whereas, when it comes to Dupuytren’s contracture, your ring and pinky finger are affected. However, both conditions can have an effect on your other fingers as well.
  • When it comes to trigger finger, you may also find that you can use your other hand to straighten your fingers. This is not the case when it comes to Dupuytren’s contracture. Once your finger is bent, you are unable to straighten it, even with assistance from your other hand.
  • Mild cases of trigger finger can be treated conservatively. In contrast, Dupuytren’s contracture, when it is advanced, cannot be treated by conservative measures, and your specialist may recommend surgery.


Signs of Trigger Finger and Dupuytren’s Contracture

While the similarities between Dupuytren’s contracture and trigger finger may cause some confusion, knowing the signs of each condition can help you pinpoint the differences between the two.

Trigger Finger Signs:

  • Difficulty bending and straightening your finger in a smooth manner.
  • Though it is unusual, you may feel like your finger is “locked” into a specific position, whether that be in a straightened or bent position.
  • Your finger may remain in a bent position, or it can suddenly straighten itself out.
  • Pain may worsen over time, but if not overused or aggravated by excessive gripping, your pain may also go away.


Dupuytren’s Contracture Signs:

  • You are unable to lay your hand down on a flat surface
  • You may see small, tender knots at the base of your fingers
  • Gradually, your finger will start to contract into your palm (this may take months or even several years to occur)


What Are the Causes of Trigger Finger and Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Trigger finger is caused by the inflammation and swelling of the sheath (protective covering) surrounding your tendon. Once your sheath swells and thickens, it becomes difficult for your tendon to glide easily and smoothly as you try to straighten and bend your finger. This friction between your tendon and the sheath can cause your finger to “trigger” into a bent position.

The inflammation experienced by a trigger finger can occur without any specific event or can be due to repetitive overuse. Other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism can also increase your chances of having this condition. Trigger finger is also more likely to occur in women than in men.

Dupuytren’s contracture occurs when the tissue cells located right under the skin of the palm of your hand undergo a genetic change. Your palmar fascia begins to thicken and draw in, causing your finger to bend towards your palm. Once this genetic change occurs, new nodules and cords develop just underneath your skin at the base of your finger.

The exact cause of this condition is unknown; however, in many cases, it can be hereditary. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing Dupuytren’s contracture, such as your age, gender, and the use of alcohol and tobacco. Diabetes can also increase your risk.  


How Can Trigger Finger and Dupuytren’s Contracture be Treated?

Trigger finger can be treated conservatively by means of:

  • Steroid Injection  
  • Splinting to reduce flexion and pain
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications


In some cases, our specialists will try to implement these measures first. If these are unsuccessful in aiding your recovery or your condition has progressed to where further measures need to be taken, then a minor surgical procedure may be recommended.

Unfortunately, Dupuytren’s contracture cannot be treated by conservative measures once the impairment of your finger is in an advanced stage. At this point, surgery will most likely be recommended. In some cases, a minimally invasive procedure or a specialized injection of collagenase may be recommended.

Whether you are experiencing symptoms of trigger finger or Dupuytren’s contracture, you should contact one of our experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow for treatment. One of our specialists located in Marietta or Atlanta, GA would love to assist you. Schedule an appointment with us today!

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Randall Alexander, MD

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon