This progressive condition causes an abnormal thickening of the connective tissue (palmar fascia) that holds the skin firmly to tendons and bones.
The exact cause is unknown but there is evidence of a genetic link so it can run in families. Other factors such as diabetes, smoking and medications may have an influence.
Most cases occur from 50-years-old and there is no cure.
The skin and fingers become tightened and one or more fingers slowly bend towards the palm of the hand. Nodules are formed under the skin of the hand and they can extend to form cords of tissue. You may also notice unusual dimples on your palm and a thickening and tenderness of the skin around the palm.
Bands of contracted tissue can form in the hand over months or years making it difficult to straighten the fingers. Over time they may be pulled into a permanently bent position.
A GP will be able to spot the nodules in the hand but the condition affects people differently so it is important to understand the impact from a mild to major deformity. Consultants will advise on the choice of medication or procedure.
Most cases are mild and no treatment is required. Non-surgical radiation therapy and injections with collagenase work to weaken the cord structures and alleviate symptoms
A minor day surgery procedure – needle fasciotomy – can be used to manipulate and weaken the contracted cords using the point of a needle.
In more advanced cases, surgical techniques can be used to restore hand function. The two main approaches are open fasciotomy, where the shortened connective tissue is cut to relieve tension or a fasciotomy were the tissue is removed. Surgery may not always successfully remove the contracture but it will significantly lessen the tension and promote hand movement.