Dupuytren's contracture is a hand deformity that affects tissue under the skin of the palm, according to Mayo Clinic. Over several years, knots of tissue develop beneath the skin to form a thick cord that pulls at a finger or fingers, bending them out of position. When this happens, the affected fingers can't straighten out completely, and everyday activities are made more difficult.
The pinky and ring fingers are affected most often. The middle finger is also sometimes affected, although rarely the index finger and thumb. This condition is most often found in elderly men who are of Northern European descent and usually develops over many years. It starts with a thickening of the skin of the palm, with the skin eventually taking on a dimpled or puckered appearance. A sensitive, firm lump of tissue may form, although no pain is generally involved. Cords of tissue form in the later stages of Dupuytren's contracture which tighten and pull the fingers toward the palm. One hand is usually affected more than the other, although both hands can be affected.
The causes of Dupuytren's contracture are unknown, although research suggests that an autoimmune reaction may be involved.
If the condition causes no pain and does not impede everyday activities, no treatment may be needed. In more severe cases, treatment may include breaking apart or removing the cords that pull on the fingers, enzyme injections to soften the cords so that they can be manipulated and surgery to remove the affected tissue.