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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.

Symptoms:

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.

Treatment:

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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9 Common Finger Joint Disorders

Joints are bestowed a tough function in the person’s optimum movement. They should support the weight as well as provide bones the ability to make smooth and painless movements. These functions make them one of the most worked-out parts of the body. Aside from the joints normal wearing and tearing, the joints are often times injured because of infection, overuse, misplaced immune system attach and degeneration. Among the most common joint disorders are:

Dislocation

This is one of the most common finger joint disorders. It is the luxation or dislocation of a finger joint characterized by a displaced articulating bone which most often is a result of bad landing from a fall. Aside from the finger joint, the joints of the jaw, fingers, elbows, knees and shoulders are typical sites for this kind of injury. This bone displacement produces a joint deformity, swelling, localized pain and inability to move affected bones.

Bursitis

Excessive joint use of bursa stress can cause bursitis – this is the inflammation of the bursa. The bursa, which is located in between the calcaneus or the heel bone and the popular Achilles tendon, might become inflamed when put to sudden strenuous physical activities. Aside from this, a kind of bursitis referred to as the “tennis elbow” actually affects the body’s bursa in between the skin and the olecranon process. Rest is the most efficient treatment of choice for bursitis; however, seeking for the advice of a doctor is beneficial.

Sprains

This joint disorder results from tearing or overstretching of the connective tissues, tendons and ligaments. However, this does not misplace articular bones. Forceful twisting or wrenching the ankles and/or ankles results to sprains of the ankles or wrist. For instance, excessively inverting your ankle could result to a sprain because the ligaments located on the lateral surface are being stretched. Serious injuries might pull all of these tissues from where they are loosely attached.

A joint that is sprained is swollen and painful, almost all of the time restricting movements. The first aid for sprain is taking a rest, while the more serious cases need medical attention. Nevertheless, joint immobilization for some specific time-frame could cause ligament weakness and bone resorption. Also, exercises could help in strengthening the joints.

Arthritis

This is disease condition which causes painful, swollen and inflamed joints. There are several kinds of arthritis and have affected more than 50 million citizens of US. Also, arthritis could be a member of some syndromes. The most usual forms of arthritis are:

Lyme Arthritis

Often called the Lyme disease, this is an infection caused by bacteria. The infection is passed through a tick bite which will then cause an intermittent arthritis of the body’s joints. Intermittent arthritis usually happens after the first few symptoms occur like pain, flu-like syndrome, fatigue and rashes.

This disease was first discovered in the town of Lyme, Connecticut where a woman wrote a journal about her younger neighbors’ juvenile and rare rheumatoid arthritis. This woman’s observations became the basis of Allen Steere’s research about this tick-borne infection. When antibiotic treatment is started during the appearance of the first few symptoms, other kinds of arthritis will be prevented.

There are also other kinds of bacteria which causes arthritis. These include the common Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species, Mycobacterium, and Neisseria gonorrhea. Furthermore, arthritis, a few times, is associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome due to the fact that while the immune system of the affected person breaks down, the risk of developing the infection will increase.

Osteoarthritis

This is a degenerative disorder and is recorded as the most common kind of arthritis. This most often comes with age. However, an arthritis that is inherited may occur earlier in life. The most common initial form of symptom is an unusual joint pain. Slowly, the affected joint will deform. For instance, fingers affected with arthritis appear gnarled or the knees are bulged.

With osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage gradually disintegrates and softens, slowly roughening the surfaces of the affected parts. Joints then are unable to make full range of motion and eventually become very painful. For instance, fingers affected with arthritis might lock in place while playing an instrument or tying his shoelaces. Most often, osteoarthritis affect joints which are utilized the most like those that are found on the knees, hips, fingers and vertebral column.

Luckily, NSAIDs have the power to control the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Exercise could make joints become more flexible. If the daily exercise routine is successful, wearing gloves and tying shoelaces will become easier.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is an autoimmune disorder where the person’s immune system attacks healthy tissues. This kind of arthritis is the most debilitating and painful. The body’s synovial membrane located in joints thickens and becomes inflamed, forming a tissue mass referred to as the pannus. The articular cartilages then become damaged giving the fibrous tissue the chance to infiltrate it, hence, interfering with the movements of the joints. Eventually, the joints will ossify and the articulated bones fuse together. Surgery is the treatment of choice for RA especially when the joints are damaged severely.

Gout

This actually is a metabolism error acquired even before birth. This is an inherited illness where the missing or defective enzyme causes the certain bodily chemicals to build up. With gout, the crystals of the uric acid accumulate in the joints, most often in the metatarsophalangeal joint. In the past, gout was thought to have been caused by consuming rich foods. In a certain condition referred to as the pseudogout, a different kind of uric acid crystal accumulates most often in the wrist or knee joint.

9 Common Finger Joint Disorders

Dupytren’s Contracture

This condition attacks the palmar fascia – the tissue that is lying beneath the palm. This is a thickened tissue which lies just above the tendons and under the skin in the hand region. Palmar fascia is actually attached to both the structure below and the skin above. This condition causes tightening or contractures of the hand tissues. Due to the contractures, the person’s fingers could be permanently bent; thus, making the hand’s movements impaired.

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Treatment for Contractures

There are instances that the human muscle may act weird, despite its ability to adapt and grow with the use of exercise and everyday activities. It is also capable in the process of shortening itself. There are cases that this happens resulting in the limited movement of a muscle or joint and worst cases suggest individuals who have lost total control of movement. A condition which results in the shortening of the muscle or joints is called a contracture. In this case, an individual suffering from this condition may experience a decrease in angle between joints like the arms coming closer to the body with the inability to have full control or just to have motion senses. This condition can happen in any part of the body, in the hands, arms or even legs. There are multiple other specific conditions that are related and caused by contractures like the Dupuytren’s disease which happens on the palms of hands and is caused by the shortening of a tissue that is found between the palms and the fingers. There are a number of reasons why this condition occurs.

Treatment for Contractures

Deformity, immobility, injury or chronic inflammation may be a seen cause of a contracture. Any trauma may trigger an abnormal activity within the affected joints or muscles. Other than that, there are in born causes like muscular dystrophy which is a degenerative disease of the muscles and cerebral palsy which is the impaired ability to control muscles. This condition though is not a permanent disease and can be relieved in a number of treatments.

A basic type of treatment for contractures is the physical therapy, it is much widely suggested that people who are suffering from the shortening of either muscle or joints to be more active, increasing the range of motion of the affected body parts. In this case, the shortening will be limited, lessened or controlled because of the continuous stretching that will counter act the development of the condition. Having an inactive lifestyle may only tolerate the progression of the disease without anything having to counter act its continual development. Physical therapy not only helps develop the muscles but also increases joint elasticity, counter acting the stiffening process.

Casts, splints and orthosis are also used to prevent the development of the condition. Casts in general help keep the affected joints and muscles in a more functional position. Helping to stretch and keep the joints and muscle in a non-tolerable manner. In this case, casts are usually repositioned from time to time to prevent stiffening of the muscles or joints. This usually used mostly in cases when the individual affected is unable to develop a sense of motion for himself, in short, he is immobile or have been in an accident. But there are also cases that braces are used with fully functional individuals like the Dupuytren’s disease, contracture of the hand, an orthosis is used to fully stretch the finger without the continuous effort of the affected individual. Other than manual treatment, mechanical treatment is also present, with the use of other devices to continuously manipulate the movement of muscles and ligaments, especially used after an operation to slow down the rate of shortening. There are also medications to help prevent the shortening of the muscles or tendons, steroid based medications primarily.

Treatment for Contractures

When all else fails, when basic treatments and medications are ineffective, the last resort of treatment considered is surgery. Surgery is used in contractures that have caused damaging effects on individuals, like the inability of motion and deformation. The surgery will primarily manipulate the affected joints or muscles depending on the affected area. Its main process is to separate shortening ligaments or muscles, in the case of Dupuytren’s disease, the shortening tissue is removed.

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