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Dupuytren's contracture, also called Dupuytren's disease, is a hand condition characterized by an abnormal thickening of the tissue just beneath the skin of the palm. It usually begins with a thickening of the skin in the palm of the hand, which may develop into a hard lump or thick band that eventually could cause the fingers, especially your pinky and ring fingers, to contract or curl into the palm. This can make it hard to use your hand, put on gloves or even put your hand in your pocket.
Though the exact cause is unknown, Dupuytren's contracture is thought to be a hereditary disease. Doctors think a gene passed down through families may be responsible. Studies show that if you have a close relative with the disease, your risk for getting it is higher. The condition is fairly common in white people with ancestors from areas of northern Europe, such as Scandinavia.
Some studies suggest that drinking alcohol and smoking could be linked to Dupuytren's. People with diabetes or epilepsy also are at a higher risk.
Dupuytren's contracture is not brought on by a hand injury or by overusing your hands.
The condition usually presents in middle age. Dupuytren's contracture is rare in people under age 40, but after age 40, it becomes more common as you get older. People who develop the disease at an earlier age may get a more severe form of it.
Men have been reported to get Dupuytren's five to 15 times more often than women. However, one explanation is that women may simply not see their doctor for it because they tend to get a less severe form.
Although Dupuytren's contracture is not dangerous to your health and it usually progresses slowly, there is no way to stop it once it develops. Most people with mild Dupuytren's can live with it fairly well.
Trying to stretch your hand and fingers does not help and may even speed up the contracture.