Should I wait for my Dupuytren disease to get worse and have more hand surgery?
In September I had an operation to remove the tendon-like Dupuytren cord from my upper palm and little finger. Developed a good bit of scar tissue as a result can’t bend the finger yet, so lots of exercises. Just yesterday I noticed nodules in my lower palm where the muscles are being used to do the exercises to get rid of the scar tissue. Went to the doctor today and he confirmed a re-occurrence of Dupuytren contracture just six months after my hand surgery. But he says there is nothing to be done until they curl the fingers. Should I be doing something else because I feel I am in early stage with the Dupuytren cord in my palm?
It is not at all uncommon for Dupuytren contracture to recur in less than a year after having hand surgery to remove the palm lumps and cords that are a part of this problem. Yours seems to have come back in six months, which is not rare; I hear a lot of these fast recurrences. I hope your hand surgeon told you all about this. Again, I hear a lot of stories from people who are not told ahead of time about how the Dupuytren contracture will always come back after surgery. These people go into surgery thinking that the hand surgery will get rid of their problem, only to find that is not the case.
Dupuytren surgery will only give a temporary relief from the problem, and sometimes the temporary relief if extremely brief, as in your case. This is very discouraging because the brief relief comes at the high price of months of surgical pain, poor healing, months of painful exercises, all ending with a hand that is not as good as before the surgery and needing more hand surgery anyway.
You need to talk to your hand surgeon about where all of this is headed. You should understand that usually the result of additional hand surgery is not a better hand, but a hand that has even more normal tissue removed resulting in risk of greater pain, limitation of movement, coldness, numbness and weakness. Additionally, you must understand that typically the speed of recurrence of Dupuytren disease after hand surgery increases with each surgery; each operation seems to make the problem come back a bit faster than the one before it.
Notice that at no point do I say that you should not have more hand surgery. I am just cautioning you that not all surgery is successful – like all Alternative Medicine care is not successful. You should ask a lot of questions and be sure of what you are getting into because all of the hand surgery sites warn about the return of Dupuytren contracture after surgery. In my opinion it is better and smarter to first use conservative self-help measures that do not carry the risks of surgery, and only use surgery after all possible conservative options have been used and have failed.
The Dupuytren Contracture Institute has been helping people for over 10 years increase their ability to heal and repair the Dupuytren tissue changes. Some people get dramatic results and some only slow down the rate of progress; every one is happy for the improvement and progress made because it is better than doing nothing but allow the problem to advance on its own. I suggest that you go to the DCI website and read a bit about how you might be able to help yourself.