Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D., AHG

This is a condition where the palmar fascia which is the fibrous tissue beneath the skin of the palm and fingers thickens. This in turn forms a abnormal thickening of the diseased fascia, which forms a band, cord or pit and is known as Dupuytren's contracture.

It mostly affects white persons of North European ancestry with high incidence in Australia, Canada and the USA and males outnumbering females 8:l. Women usually have a milder form of the disease and it is slightly more frequent in non-laborers, and often occurs in both hands. Heredity is a major factor and the disease may affect successive generations. Although prevalent in the 40-60 age group, the most aggressive form is in younger males.

Despite the detailed knowledge about the disease, research has not established the cause. Clinical studies confirm a higher incidence in alcoholics, diabetics and persons with epilepsy. There is no proof that injury can cause Dupuytren's. However, patients with a predilection for the disease may have an earlier onset as the result of an injury. (http://www.arthroscopy.com/sp04012.htm)

Dupuytren's usually begins as a painless lump or pit near the palmar crease at the base of the ring, little or middle fingers, or along the front of a finger. The index finger and thumb are seldom involved.

It is painless. It usually begins with a contracting band or cord of diseased fascia at the base of one of more fingers. This causes the fingers to contract impairs impairing the ability to perform many common daily activities such as shaking hands, washing, putting on gloves, or entering a pocket become clumsy. There may also be ligament tightness in other areas of the body such as the shoulder, and rarely the fascia on the sole of the foot may be thickened. Penile scarring has also been described.

The disease is not curable and is usually treated through surgery where the diseased fascia is removed, releasing the tightened ligaments and lengthening the contracture of the skin. Sometimes splints, steroid injections and other aggressive hand therapies are used to control or reverse its progress.

I have not seen any results whatsoever with acupuncture nor the external or internal use of herbs. The only reported treatment that seems to work for some was described by Dr. Jonathan Wright in one of his books. He recommended high doses of Vitamin E -- about 2400 IU's daily for 6-8 months, then down to 1200 units for another half year or so. I have known two cases, prominent members of the healing community, who have followed this protocol over a 15 to 18 month period. One of them is down to a maintenance dose of 400-800 IU's of vitamin E for maintenance. After 10 years there has been no recurrence. Presently one of these patients recommends D-alpha tocopherol with mixed tocopherols.

Source: Jonathan Wright, Michael Murray and Alan Tillotson

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