What is Dupuytren’s Contracture?
As a physical therapist and “domestic engineer” I have used and abused my hands for over 41 years. I also have been genetically blessed with “Dupuytren’s Contracture” otherwise known as “Viking Disease” affecting the third, fourth, and fifth fingers of my right hand. What is Dupuytren’s Contracture? The real cause is unknown but risk factors include advancing age and Scandinavian and Celtic ancestry. I can recall my dad having contracted 4th and 5th fingers and his brother, my uncle, a chiropractor had it severely in 3rd, 4thand 5th fingers. In addition to my worsening bent fingers I suffered some trauma to my hand this past fall which worsened the condition. I was unable to straighten my fingers to put on a glove, lift weights in my body pump class, or cut/chop an onion or garlic. I then decided I needed to get some help.
I knew that MMI had an excellent hand surgeon, Dr. Kristen Nesbitt Silon and a fantastic hand therapy team. At the same time Dr. Steven Horton joined the team so as soon as someone’s schedule opened up I decided to pursue a consult. I then met with Dr. Horton who thoroughly listened to my hand history and understood my functional losses. We discussed several options which included surgical release and or Xiaflex injections. The following month I was set up for the injections. The Xiaflex was injected into the thickened tissue or “cords” of the fingers (Thankfully following some numbing medications). Two days later I returned to see Dr. Horton and he manually manipulated the fingers into completely straight alignment. He then walked me over to the hand therapy department where Rich Shegogue, OTR/L,CHT made me a custom, very comfortable hand splint to maintain the extension of my fingers. “The tissue has memory,” as Rich explained, “You’ll need to keep this splint on until I see you again.” No longer did I demonstrate a clawing hand, no longer did my fingers remain in a 90-degree fixed state. Following the procedure and while splinted, my hand was black and blue, swollen and sore from the trauma but I cried tears of joy because I had my hand back.
So that is the general saga of my Dupytren’s Contracture, but equally important was the care I received from my first consult through all of my follow ups and hand therapy sessions. Dr. Horton was very caring and interested in my case. He wanted the outcome to be the best, “a perfect result.” He personally saw me for each post-op visit, By the time I arrived at the visit he and Rich had already discussed my progress, prognosis, and concerns.
I write this blog today as I returned from my first swim and weight-lifting session at the local YMCA. I used scissors today for the first time in 6 months. Tears of joy again as I am returning to doing simple fine motor tasks. I am still healing from the manipulation, so the swelling remains. I’m unable to wear my favorite ring on my 4th finger yet, but I’m working with Rich and my home instructions. I must say thanks to my family and my husband for pitching in on my domestic chores that I was unable to perform over the past 5 months.
Today happens to be my husband and my 40th wedding anniversary. He surprised me with a ruby ring, two sizes larger than my original wedding band. He knew my standard 6.5 size finger was now like a size 8. He wanted me to celebrate the success with wearing it on my swollen right 4th finger, explaining that this ring symbolizes a bold strong lady. Rubies protect from negative entities and promote spiritual vitality and wellness. He further explained…”wear this ring because now your hand is straight, and your fingers are as beautiful as the day we met.” “We’ll get it resized one day once the swelling all dissipates.” Again, more tears of joy, I can wear a ring!
So finally, Thanks Dr. Horton, thanks Rich and thank you all my support system. You know who you are, Sarah, Robert, my kids, my MMI coworkers, and friends.
Hand injuries? Ailments? Functional loss? Go to the experts at MMI. The Hand Center at MMI has experts in hand and upper extremity conditions that help you from diagnosis to treatment with non-operative and operative options. The caring surgeons and expertise of the hand therapists work together to get you back to the activities you love. I am living proof. I continue to gain mobility and function more and more each day. I am so fortunate to have their support. Do not waste another day in pain. Call 301-694-8311 or visit mmidocs.com today.