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Finger Contracture: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Contracture of the hand, wrist and finger is caused by the shortening of connective tissues, muscles and tendons resulting to the inability of the joints to extend. A wrist contracture could be brought about by the formation of scar tissue around or in the joints. This leads to limited extension and restricted movement of a person’s wrist.

Often, finger contractures are precipitated by the disease called Dupuytren’s contractures. This disease is progressive in nature and affects the tissues under palm’s skin which is the palmar fascia. The triangular, strong and thick fascia is located in between the skin and the tendons, with attachments below and above, extending into the fingers. While the palmar fascia shortens and thickens because of the disease, the person’s fingers could gradually be pulled to the palm taking away the capability of the fingers to be straightened. The progression of this disease varies from one person to another. Also, the occurrence of symptoms could not be predicted, although, the contracture is more likely to happen when a member of your family has had this disorder. Other contributing factors would include being male, diagnosed with seizure disorders, if you are alcoholic and have undergone any hand surgery.

The symptoms are most often experienced in both of a person’s hands with the little and ring fingers being affected tremendously. The thumb and the index finger are rarely affected.

Causes of Contractures:

  • Hand Injury or Surgery: These form scar tissues especially during the recovery process. If the scarring happens within a position that affects the normal movement of a person’s finger joints, contractures could result.
  • Family History: The finger contracture causes are unclear. However, there is a 65%-70% chance that this could be brought about by a history of the condition within the family.
  • Other causes: The following factors have not established a strong connection to the finger contracture disorder, although, these increase a person’s risk of having it. These are: liver disease, epilepsy, alcoholism, diabetes, Viking and North European Ancestry, smoking, being male and senior citizen.


The initial symptoms are tiny nodules within the hand most especially in the palm near the fingers. These might be painful in the beginning; however, pain disappears with time. The person may start to pucker and the palm’s painless cords could extend towards the fingers. In trying to extend the fingers, the skin may blanch and it could lose color. The range of motion could be restricted and the normal ability of the hand to function properly may be reduced.


Finger Contracture: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Today, there are already two options for treating finger contractures. The outcome of each of these options will depend mainly on the maturity of the scar tissue. If the finger contracture occurred just recently, the best method to correct the disorder is to wear a splint on your wrist together with a few other hand exercises to improve your range of motion.

On the other hand, when the scar tissues are more than 3 months old, improving your range of motion is impossible already; hence, surgery is your best option. The purpose of surgeries will be to get rid of the scar tissues to be able to loosen up the finger joints, even if it could not be removed entirely and newer scar tissues have piled up on top of the older layers. After the operation, a splint should be worn for at least 6 weeks. The use of the splint should be gradually reduced as hand stretching exercises are introduced.

For Dupuytren’s disorder, the main treatment will be composed of a “wait and see” scheme. This is because before the any medical procedure is done, an observation is recommended to be able to determine the extent of damage. In a few cases, early treatment provides the patients hope that the disease is still manageable.

Aponeurotomy is the procedure most often utilized to separate finger cords; hence, restore mobility. This can be performed under an outpatient registration. This treatment method is preferred by many because this is not as invasive as others and scar tissue formation is lessened. Recuperation care will include using a splint for a specific number of hours each day.

After a surgery, recurrence is still possible, rehabilitation could be lengthy and complications might happen.

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Fingers Curved, Thumbs Down: Hand Contracture Causes

Imagine not able to grasp, grip, hold or even perform a high five? Yes, hand contracture can be as horrible as not being able to do anything – with your hands. Aside from these inabilities, social stigma may rise because of the bizarre hand flexion. What are hand contracture causes and what are the chances that we can have them treated?

A contracture is the shortening of particular tendons, muscles or other connective tissue, resulting to the inability to fully extend or straighten affected joints. Hand and finger contractures are often related to Dupuytren’s contracture. Usually develops over the years, this disorder affects a layer or bundle of tissues under the skin of your palm. Abnormally, these tissues mutate and change and form a tick cord the can pull one or more of your fingers and making it bent. Once this happens, the affected fingers cannot be fully straightened which can be very evident when you place your hands on your pocket, put on gloves or even when you shake your hand.

Fingers Curved, Thumbs Down: Hand Contracture Causes

The exact cause is unknown. But most researchers conclude that it can be associated with an autoimmune reaction – atypically, a person’s immune system attacks its self, tissues and creates a cord. Various factors are also associated with the contracture that increases one’s risk of having it. People aging 40 and above are at higher incidence to acquire it, as symptoms fully occur at this age. Men are more likely to have it than women. Checking your family history about this may also help, since it runs in families, especially those of Northern European descent. Diabetes patients should also take precautions since they have increased risk. Most of all, smokers and alcoholics, must think ahead because smoking chemicals and alcohol may initiate cell mutation.

Hand contracture causes may still be unfamiliar but these risk factors keep us aware of how close we are in acquiring the disease. The last thing we would want is having those topsy-turvy fingers!

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