search   RSS Feeds
Click to search

Living Healthy

New treatment eases hand disease, Dupuytrens Contracture

BOSTON (WHDH) -- We do a lot with our hands.

So when we start losing the use of them, it quickly becomes noticeable.

When Denny Holt began to feel pain and stiffness in his fingers, he knew it wasn't good.

As years passed his fingers began to curl.

"Just putting on shaving cream in the morning with the fingers pretty much closed, you throw it at your face and try to spread it with two instead of your whole hand, which was pretty difficult," said Holt.

Holt was diagnosed with Dupuytrens Contracture, a condition that affects the connective tissue, or fascia, that lies beneath the skin in the palm of the hand.

A hard, collagen-like substance builds up, creating little bumps and ridges that tighten the tissue. This pulls the fingers, causing them to permanently bend.

"Ultimately, it becomes progressive enough to the point where you can't open enough to get your hand into your pocket, then it starts to restrict your day to day life," said Dr. James Higgins of the Curtis National Hand Center.

At one time surgery was the only option. But patients said rehab is long and painful.

Now doctors are using a substance that breaks down the cord.

When it's injected into the tissue, the substance dissolves the bumps quickly. A patient can see results overnight.

"Literally the next day, within 24 hours, we manipulate the fingers and we can straighten them," said Dr. James Higgins of the Curtis National Hand Center.

Denny Holt has had both treatments.

He prefers the injections. And because the disease is genetic, he's happy knowing, if his children develop the condition, the injections will be available.