Can Dupuytrens contracture be caused or aggravated by an elbow injury?

Can Dupuytrens Contracture be comorbid with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome? My pinky is locked at a 90 degree angle all the time and I have the bulge around the tendon. I also have the pitting in the palm of the hand. I was diagnosed with Dupuytrens Contracture. Then after seeing orthopedics they noticed that I had Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and I am on a waiting list to get the ulnar nerve decompression surgery. Also when I went back to orthopedics, the new doctor that I didn’t see before didn’t think my hand had Dupuytren’s and just thought the “tendon fell off track.”

She told me for the pinky that they could do a surgery to make the pinky straight all the time. I told her that she might as well cut it off it that was the case. I don’t understand why she didn’t concur with the other person’s diagnosis. I have even see an orthopedic nurse that said right away and without a doubt it was Dupuytren’s.

My grandfather, 66 years old, has Dupuytrens and has had it since his 40’s. He has the deep pitting in the palm just like I have. His pinky finger hasn’t gotten to the point that mine has though and I am only 26 years old. I understand that it usually only affects people over 40. He just recently had to have an ulnar nerve decompression surgery as well.

I hyper-extended and/or dislocated my elbow back in 2008 while doing combatives when I was in the Army. That is when I first hurt my elbow and it has just been getting worse ever since. The pinky started kinking off to one side in 2009 or 2010. It progressively got worse and by the end of 2011 my pinky was at a 90 degree angle. Within the past year (2012) is when the palm started going numb and losing the strength in my grip. I started dropping things and sometimes get shooting pain down the elbow to the hand. My palm is always numb. Now, 2013, my forearm now has atrophy. My right forearm looks like Tarzan while my left is wasting away. Everything is all on my left side.

I guess my biggest question is could the ulnar nerve that is pinched have started to cause “claw hand” which later developed into Dupuytrens contracture and “claw hand?”

Greetings,

In medical practice the idea of comorbidity indicates that diseases affect an individual in varying degrees and each health problem influences all other health problems, so that the total effect of all diseases or health problems influence an individual person is greater than the than a primary disease or health problem. I often see that Dupuytrens contracture is comorbid with other physical problems of the hand, as well as liver and lungs.

The fact that you are only 26 years old does not rule out the possibility of Dupuytrens contracture occurring so early if you have strong genetic factors and a history of sufficient trauma to trigger it.   As such, with a Dupuytrens diathesis that could be revealing itself in your case you must be extremely careful how you proceed.  You have a lifetime ahead of you in which a poorly managed case of DC that is botched early in life has sufficient time to go further awry.  Proceed with great caution and exercise extreme conservatism in whatever treatment route you take.

It is rather common for Dupuytrens contracture to develop after surgical trauma, or conventional trauma, to the upper extremity.  Your cubital tunnel syndrome is an entrapment of the ulnar nerve near the elbow, and could possibly be related to the symptoms you now mention.

It is difficult for me to comment on the accuracy of either doctor’s diagnosis concerning your hand problem, either that you do or do not have Dupuytrens contracture since I have not personally examined you.   However, taking you at your word for the accuracy of your complaints, as well as your family history of Dupuytrens contracture, it certainly does seem likely that you have DC.

I suggest that you ask an experienced and knowledgeable body worker to examine that problem elbow of your to determine if there is a functional misalignment or dysarticulation of the elbow complex that might possibly be altering the normal mechanics of your elbow and consequently impact your hand.  In addition, it would be a good idea to look at how using Alternative Medicine to assist your ability to reverse the possible Dupuytrens contracture going on in your hand.   TRH

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