What is the problem with my hand? Why can’t I straighten out my pinky and ring finger?

No confident answer can be given to this question based on this single finding of fingers that are stuck in the bent position.  One of the possible reasons for fingers that won’t straighten out is Dupuytren contracture.  

Good news about Dupuytren contracture treatment and those bent fingers

Surgery is not always necessary to restore the limited finger movement of Dupuytren’s contracture.  Since 2002 the Dupuytren Contracture Institute has helped people from all parts of the world use natural Alternative Medicine therapy to help those who can’t extend their fingers because of DC.  Our position has always been that while hand surgery is always an option, it makes sense to first attempt non-surgical treatment and therefore possibly avoid the inherent risks of surgery.

Results of Alternative Medicine treatment of Dupuytrens contracture therapy

What is Dupuytren’s contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a soft tissue problem of thickening and shortening of the deep supporting tissue of the hand (palmar fascia), found immediately above the bones and tendons and below the skin of the hand.  This thickening and shortening that takes place below the skin surface causes lumps on the palm of the hand that results in constricted fingers that are bent down toward the palm preventing the hand from being opened without pain.

Dupuytren hand contracture is slowly progressive as the nodules or lumps on the palm of the hand cause the involved fingers to not straighten out and permanently get stuck in the flexed position with the fingertips toward the palm. Both hands are affected half of the time, and the right hand is more often affected when only one hand develops the problem. One or more fingers can be affected at the same time; usually the ring finger won’t extend or the pinky finger won’t extend – or both fingers can’t open normally.

The cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is unknown, but it does appear to have some strong genetic association since seven out of 10 people who are diagnosed with Dupuytren contracture have a family history of the condition.   Further supporting the genetic input of these hand nodules is the finding that those people who have a Scandinavian or North European ancestry (Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland), are far more likely to develop hand nodules than dark skinned people.  It is more common in those over 40 years of age, and men (70%) more often women (30%).  There is still controversy and diverse opinion about the unclear relationship of other disease and environmental factors and the development of Dupuytren contracture:

  • Liver disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Trauma
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes

How do I know it is Dupuytren that is causing my fingers to not straighten out? 

As discussed above, there are more than one reason to explain why the pinky and ring finger won’t extend.  The reader can develop a fairly confident conclusion if the hand stiffness is due to Dupuytren contracture when several of these factors are present:

  • Age 40+
  • Male
  • Family descended from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or a Scandinavian country
  • One or more family members have Dupuytren contracture
  • Palm lump at the base of the pinky and/or ring finger
  • Treated for epilepsy
  • Diabetic
  • Alcohol abuse or liver disease

Is this the only thing that could cause my ring finger to not straighten out any more?  Why do I have a bent little finger now?  

First, let’s consider the obvious cause for a lump or density to appear on the palm of anyone’s hand, so you do not have to worry this common and normal palm nodule.   If you have recently begun using your hands in a new way (a new job in a factory or construction, recently started a hobby like gardening or wood working, or heavy housework for a few days in the springtime), that small painful palm lump might be a callus.  Think back to what new activities, or greater work associated with old activities, that could prove your hand nodule is nothing abnormal.

If you cannot otherwise account for the new lumps on the palms, then it could be a rather common condition called Dupuytren’s contracture.

>> Natural Dupuytren Contracture Treatment – FAQs

Let’s also consider another explanation why the hand will not open as it once did:  trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis).  This is really not anything more than a swollen tendon in the palm of the hand that periodically locks up finger movement when it encounters a narrowed part of the tendon sheath that surrounds it.   Any finger or thumb can display a trigger finger reaction in which the affected digit suddenly catches while in a bent position and just as suddenly releases the hold – like a trigger when it is pulled and suddenly snaps as it is  released.  Trigger finger can be occasional or frequent, mild or severe, locked in a bent position for a short or prolonged time, and mildly or severely painful.

The great differentiation between the locked finger of trigger finger and Dupuytren contracture is the trigger finger has a very sudden onset and release with a popping sound, and it is apparently normal between episodes.  While the stuck finger of Dupuytren contracture is slowly progressive, and does not release because it is constant.

Let’s explore this problem through a few questions commonly asked by people who want to know more about their inability to extend their fingers.

Are the Dupuytren nodules or cords a type of tumor of the hand?

No, Dupuytren’s contracture is not a cancerous tumor, although certain hand problems that also cause hand pain, reduced finger movement and swelling are cancers (giant cell tumor or epitheliod sarcoma).  This is the reason it is strongly suggested to have your doctor evaluate your hand complaints and determine a clear diagnosis of the condition that is causing the problem straightening out the fingers and making it so you cannot open your hand without pain.

What keeps my fingers bent all the time and why won’t my fingers straighten out?

Dupuytren contracture begins as a thickening of the deep tissue of the palm (palmar fascia), located below the skin and above the bones and tendons of the palm.   This thickened state slowly progresses and the involved tissue also shortens at the same time, gradually allowing less and less movement until the fingers are constricted completely into a modified fist.  In the early stage of Dupuytren contracture as the palm lumps develop, it is not possible to flatten the hand on a tabletop and pain accompanies it. Later as cords develop from the nodules, the reduced finger movement makes the stiff fingers more pronounced until they come closer to the palm of the hand.

Is this why my pinky finger and ring finger won’t extend open?

Exactly.  People comment that when their Dupuytren contracture starts they can’t open the hand without pain and they experience great clumsiness.  Over time this changes to gradually prevent the  involved finger so it won’t straighten out completely, sometimes eventually constricting finger movement completely.

Is this the reason I can’t open my hand without pain?

Pain is a common complaint when Dupuytren contracture begins, often described as constant stinging and burning pain wherever there are lumps on the palm of the hand.   Over time as each finger gets stuck in a constant bent position, less pain is felt usually.

Generally, Dupuytren contracture is not thought of as a very painful condition; it is known mostly for the bent fingers, inability to fully open the hand, and the palm lumps.

32 thoughts on “What is the problem with my hand? Why can’t I straighten out my pinky and ring finger?

  1. Tina Ferry says:

    I been having times were my ring finger won’t open. .. but then after a little while. …it does open
    Would this be considered the first stage of Dupuytren’s contracture?

  2. Dr.Herazy says:

    No, Tina, what you report does not sound like Dupuytren’s contracture. You probably have a trigger finger developing. I suggest you see your doctor about it. TRH

  3. Andrea Shulman says:

    None of my fingers are strait except my thumb( from the middle up) it’s been this way my entire life…
    Would this information about Dupuytren’s contracture apply to me?

  4. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Andrea,

    No, there is little chance you have Dupuytren ‘s contracture. What you suggest you have is a mild congenital deformity of your hands. Dupuytren’s contracture is a fibrous buildup of foreign tissue in the palms and fingers that occurs usually in people during the 4th to 5th decade of life (sometimes earlier) in one or two of their hands which previously did not display such fibrous tissue. As a result of these fibrous nodules and cords the typical Dupuytren’s contracture of one or more fingers develops in which there is reduced extension (straightening) of the involved fingers. TRH

  5. Mike says:

    This Dupuytren’s contracture started before the end of my tour in eastern asia and i went to several doctors when my fingers on my right hand got worse they basically said i was to young for AR and said it was Dupuytrens. And yes i do have nodes in my palm and yes i have gone thru my family history and no one has any hand problems. i keep check with the military but no new info.
    Could acupuncture help or cure to get my fingers back ?

  6. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings again Mike,

    You ask if acupuncture could help or cure your Dupuytren’s contracture. No one can give you a yes or no answer to that question because Dupuytren’s contracture is a very difficult condition with so many complex factors that affect recovery. I can only shrug my shoulders and speculate that it probably could help to a degree, maybe a little or maybe a lot.

    One thing I do know is that the DCI method, in addition to about 12 other therapies, also uses a non-needle acupuncture device to deliver stimulation to acupuncture points around the Dupuytren’s contracture palm lumps and cords. Since 2002 I have seen that the larger the Alt Med plan that is used to support the body’s ability to heal the DC fibrous tissue, the better the results are likely to be. That is why DCI proposes that multiple therapies are used against Dupuytren’s contracture. I have not seen that any one Alt Med therapy method or product is sufficient to help the body get rid of the Dupuytren’s contracture material. Look around this website to see this idea makes sense to you. Good luck with your Duppuytren’s contracture, sir. TRH

  7. Mike Sauber says:

    I’m of Scandinavian heritage, over 40 and have an older brother who has Dupuytren’s Contracture. I have a lump on my right palm below baby finger, but no signs of contraction yet. I just got a broken blood vessel right next to it below my ring finger. As it has healed, it appears to be a hard spot very similar to my pinky lump. Perhaps the lump was there before and never noticed it until the broken blood vessel? Is there any relationship with a broken blood vessel and Dupuytren’s contacture?

  8. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Mike,

    Dupuytren’s contracture is not known specifically to be caused by broken blood vessels in the hand; for DC to occur broken blood vessels must not always be present. However, hand trauma can serve as a DC trigger in those who are otherwise genetically predisposed to this problem. You might have sustained hand trauma along the way that broke some blood vessels and led to your Dupuytren’s contracture. TRH

  9. Diane says:

    I’ve had Dupuytren’s contracture for 25 years. I’ve had the needle aponeurotomy treatment twice with Dr. Eaton. It worked out well. As time has gone by my left hand pinky finger is too far gone for treatment but I would like to work on my ring finger which is not bent that far. I went to a hand surgeon who suggested that he would like to cut the cord, take out the lump, and then suture the cord back together. He said it is a very simple operation he can do in his office. I’m a little concerned and don’t know what to do. I could find no information on the Dupuytren’s contracture website mentioning cutting the cord and sewing it back together. Please can someone help me?

    Should I do this?


  10. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Diane,

    Sorry to hear about the progression of your Dupuytren’s contracture. Dr. Eaton is an excellent and well-known hand surgeon.

    Your recurrence of Dupuytren’s contracture after needle aponeurotomy is common. Further, that it has progressed beyond the initial state so that no more needle aponeurotomy can be done is typical of Dupuytren’s contracture. Many people have to stop after a second hand surgery, like you, but a few go farther before they are also forced to stop. Some do not have any other option after a few Dupuytren’s contracture surgeries but amputation. This is why DCI suggests that people first attempt non-surgical Alt Med treatment that avoids this recurrence issue.

    I cannot advise you about hand surgery; for that you have to consult a local doctor who can actually examine your Dupuytren’s contracture. But, I can tell you I have not heard of a reattaching or resectioning a surgically cut Dupuytren’s contracture cord; when a cord is cut it is typically left that way. I have no idea of how common or typical this procedure is, or the success rate; you need to find this out. This might be a rather new procedure. For this reason I suggest being very cautious how you approach this option. For starters I would definitely find out how many of these particular surgeries this other hand doctor has done, as well as learn as much about him and his practice as possible. I would also get a second opinion, perhaps from Dr. Eaton, about this resectioning procedure. Good luck with your Dupuytren’s contracture. TRH

  11. Jesse Whisenhunt says:

    I dont know if I have trigger finger or Dupuytren’s Contracture and getting the VA to do test is dam near impossible. My fingers are straight and can bend. However, keeping them straight I have a constant burning sensation in my palm (left). In the past and when I exercise (use to) my hands would look up in what I describe as a claw. I would have to force them to straighten and hold them that way until it passes. My hand never made a popping sound. I feel no pain just burning. I can no longer do push ups and some other exercise due to my hand. Fingers on my right hand can be raised as if I was trying to pop the joint. But on my left hand they are like trying to straighten a steel bar, thus unable to “pop” the joint. Extension that is what I meant by popping.

    So what test will verify is Dupuytren’s Contracture or not and what can I do to help it so it will not get worse?

  12. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Jesse,

    Based on your description of your left hand problem, it is my opinion you do not have Dupuytren’s contracture. A variable and pliable contracture of the entire hand, without any observable nodule or cord formation, does not at all sound like Dupuytren’s contracture – and that is a good thing.

    However, I cannot offer you any clear idea what might be going with that hand; perhaps it is a chronic soft tissue involvement of the major joints of the left hand related to past injury or repeated stress. Getting to an orthopedic specialist who would do an evaluation would be your best bet.

    Good luck to you, sir. TRH

  13. Charlie Blackwell says:

    At the base of My right hand, ring finger is the beginnings of what looks like a rubber band retraction spanning to the the first line in the palm of my hand. No pain unless I press it and no issues with a bent finger. But I’m curious, is this Dupuytren’s contracture or a torn tendon or something else?

    I truly do covet your wisdom,

    Thank you in advance,

    Charlie Blackwell

  14. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Charlie,

    Your description sounds very much like Dupuytren’s contracture, but it would be a good idea to see a doctor for a sure confirmation. TRH

  15. Annie T says:

    Somewhere along my life my pinky finger has become bent and unable to straighten out . i am 17 years of age. If i use my other hand i can straighten it . there is no pain . its just that my finger awkwardly sticks out when i type or if im writing. i can close my hand to a fist no problem but if i place my hand flat on a table my little finger is always raised . is this dupuytrens contracture ?

  16. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Annie,

    Without a direct physical examination it is not possible to say for certain the exact nature of your problem. But based on your brief description and your age, my best guess is that you have what is called a trigger finger. A trigger finger, or temporary difficulty or locking of a finger so that it pops open or closed, is the result of inflammation or the sheath of one or more finger tendons located in the palm. It is not likely you have Dupuytren’s contracture.

    Did you have an injury to that hand prior to the time this locking began? I suggest you evaluate your activities to determine if there is something you are doing to excess (you mention typing and writing), or is abusive to that hand (examples, volleyball, martial arts or housework). Try reducing or modifying that activity to see if it helps your hand. You can also try simply icing that hand for 20 minutes at a time, twice a day for a few days, to see to see if it helps the finger. If neither of these measures reduces the frequency or intensity of the temporary locking of the pinky I suggest you see your doctor about it. Good luck. TRH

  17. Karen says:

    My 4th & 5th finger are bent moving towards my palm. It has been this way about a month now. At first I thought it was ulna nerve entrapment. I do get a pinched nerve in my neck ever so often, on my left side. My left hand is the effected side also. I cannot straighten out my 2 fingers on their own. I have to straighten them out with my other hand. I have no pain when straightening them out. My anterior wrist seems to have a slight flat lump on it. It is not a bulging lump, like a ganglion cyst. I also have Raynaude’s Syndrome. Do these symptoms sound like Dupuytren’s contracture, or could this be some kind of Autoimmune Disease? I went see a Chiropractor but he was baffled by this and was unable to help me. Any answers would be appreciated. Thank you, Karen

  18. Dr.Herazy says:

    Greetings Karen,

    The various left hand signs and symptoms you describe make me think you have two trigger fingers. But without an examination and good history that is only a guess. Your description does not make it sound like Dupuytren’s contracture.

    I suggest you go see a hand specialist who should be able to diagnose your hand problem. Good luck. TRH

  19. craig lewis says:

    Dr. Herazy, I had a stroke and my dominant hand, the left hand is affected, all fingers are bent; there are no prominent nodules. I am in my 60’s and of Irish, English and Scot heritage. To my knowledge, no other members of my family have suffered Dupuytren’s contracture. I have designed and worked construction most of my adult life. Is it possible that I have Dupuytren’s contracture? All of my fingers are affected index to pinky. What are the available therapies as I once played Spanish classical guitar and would love to do so again, if at all possible.

  20. Dr. Herazy says:

    Greetings Craig,

    You give me limited and partial information about a complex situation. If I had more information I could give a better answer; but, I think I can give you some direction for your next step.

    There are several possibilities going on that need to be looked into. Because of your stroke you probably have enough brain injury to cause what is known as an Upper Motor Neuron Lesion (UMNL). The brain injury could be causing your left fingers to go into a spastic paralysis (sudden bending, with inability to straighten). Since you do not have palm nodules, and no DC in your family, this is the more likely explanation. However, you are of strong northern European descent, you have done heavy manual labor and you play a rigorous form of guitar. So, in a way, it is possible that you could have an irregular form of Dupuytren’s contracture with minimal or slow nodule development.

    I suggest you start with your neurologist who attended you doing the acute stages of your stroke. Present your hand to him/her and get a differential diagnosis. You could also see a hand specialist for this same purpose. Be sure to let him/her know about your stroke, family background and work/hobby history.

    Your hand problem could be caused by Dupuytren’s contracture, but I tend to doubt it. You need to know for sure, so you will know how to proceed. Good luck to you. TRH

  21. Baptiste says:

    I had the same problem at 22. My pinkie only bent at the first nodule and stayed straight. Doctor had no cure and wanted to amputate it.

    I taped my pinkie to my finger next to it and after about a month of using my hand like that , it came right. My pinkie are like never had a problem.

  22. 88TRH88 says:

    Greetings Baptiste,

    So you taped your straight pinky finger to the finger next to it that was moving well? This apparently helped bend and flex the stiff finger a little all day long. What a brilliant, easy, and simple way to solve a big problem.

    While your straight finger does not relate to Dupuytren’s contracture there is a good lesson here for all of us.

    Many medical doctors are like the one who wanted to amputate your finger. Drugs and surgery are the answers to all problems, nothing else. If you do not get better with drugs and surgery, then you need more drugs and surgery. At the age of 22 you were smarter, and had more common sense, than the MD. Good for you. TRH

  23. Ester says:

    Is this Dupuytren’s contracture? My left palm hurts along with the last three fingers. The pinky, ring and middle finger will only straighten but with a bit of pain. When the palm opens up it feels like it’s stiff. When I do so, the top of the palm from the middle finger to the pinky it’s puffy. Thumb and first finger just fine. Nothing is locking or cracking, just feels sore and puffy. All problems have to do with the last three fingers.

  24. 88TRH88 says:

    Greetings Ester,

    Based on your description, I can only give you a general guess about your problem. Certain aspects of your description could be an early case of Dupuytren’s contracture, but overall I would say it is not likely. My best advice is that you should go see a hand doctor who can give you an informed and accurate diagnosis, and tell you how to get full and pain-free use of your hand back — whatever the cause. TRH

  25. Noah says:

    Why would my pinkey keep on popping when try ball a fists it sometimes hurts what could it be thanks dr

  26. Dr. Herazy says:

    Greetings Noah,

    That popping and locking of your little finger when you make a fist is probably not Dupuytren’s contracture. This is called a trigger finger. It is caused by irritation and swelling of the covering of the tendons in palm of your hand. Try using some ice packs on the little finger side of palm of your hand. You can also use the thumb of your other hand to massage the area of the little finger side of your palm to get some of the swelling out of the area. Using the DIC small plan would also help work some of that inflammation out of your hand and help it get back to normal. TRH

  27. brian taylor says:

    Came home after work pulled my hood release with my right hand had like a charley horse back side of my forearm between my wrist and elbow lost my ring finger 2 days later at work was unwraping some freight reach out same charley then lost my pinky could be dupuytren’s contracture

  28. Dr. Herazy says:

    Greetings Brian,

    Doubt you have Dupuytren’s contracture. Anything is possible, but your spartan description does not sound like DC.

    When you say you first “lost” your ring finger, and then later your pinky finger, I assume you mean each became numb. If so, you should go to a hand specialist for evaluation as soon as possible to determine the reason for your symptoms. Good luck, sir. TRH

  29. Debbe Frame says:

    Hi, after reading the comments I decided to ask your opinion about my situation with Dupuytren’s contracture. I’ve lost all the movement in 3 fingers on both hands, and limited movement with index and thumbs. Pain in neck and left shoulder. I’m a diabetic and 70+.

  30. Dr. Herazy says:

    Greetings Debbe,

    Sounds like you have an aggressive case of Dupuytren’s contracture going on there. Sorry to hear that. A large percent of the people we work with also have multiple finger involvement and varying degrees of limited finger movement.

    The DCI natural therapy protocol has gotten the best treatment results of any natural method used because it is larger and more intensive than other treatment approaches. People who try to use a natural treatment approach that is limited or focused to just one or two supplements (just vitamin E, or just acetyl-L-carnitine) are always disappointed. But when DCI instructions for the large plan are followed faithfully, 8-10 people report moderate to marked improvement of their Dupuytren’s contracture lumps and cords (up to and including complete recovery), for every one report of failure. Additionally, we receive many reports of people who cancel their DC hand surgery after our DCI treatment. Those are some very good results. In that time, there has never been a report of return or worsening of the DC after improvement has occurred — no side effects. How effective and helpful the DCI treatment depends on how well they use the program.

    Some people make the mistake of trying to take short cuts, or to use the plan for just a few weeks; all good natural treatment takes time and effort. What makes DCI treatment so different is that we try to cover ALL the bases of good natural treatment. For this reason, our well-designed treatment plan helps people even after they have bad results after hand surgery.

    Please look at the different DCI natural treatment plans, especially the large one, and see if it makes sense to you. If you have any questions, just let me know. TRH

  31. Paloma says:

    I have had trigger thumb in my left hand in the past and got it corrected through surgery. About a year ago, I noticed a lump in my left hand. It didn’t hurt so I didn’t really think about. Now I have more lumps and my pinky will not lay flat. After seeing commercials on this I believe I have the beginnings of DUPUYTREN CONTRACTURE. What treatments other than another surgery can I try?

  32. Dr. Herazy says:

    Greetings Paloma,

    Many people develop Dupuytren’s contracture after any kind of surgery to the arms or hands for any reason. Some even after surgery on hte head, trunk or legs. It is like a chemical trigger enters the blood stream to signal the production of fibrin and collagen. For people who are predisposed to Dupuytren’s contracture, this starts the creation of a lump on the palm of the hand that eventually forms a finger cord. Unfortunately, for reasons that are still be studied, the process does not stop; it just slowly gets worse. When a surgeon tries to remove any part of that mass of excess fibrous tissue in the hand, the body simply continues the production of fibrin and collagen, making the Dupuytren’s contracture even worse. This is called post-surgical recurrence.

    DCI has helped people with Dupuytren’s contracture since 2002, investigating the effectiveness of holistic natural healing for DC palm lumps and cords. We receive reports from around the world that show 8-10 people experience moderate to marked improvement (up to and including complete elimination) of their DC problem when they correctly follow the DCI large plan, for each one person who reports failure. Those are very positive and encouraging results, by any standard. Especially when you consider that there has never been a report of hand lump recurrence after successful DCI treatment, and no report of side effects.

    Read a few different areas of this website to see how we work to support your tissue healing response. Each order comes with complete instructions how to correctly use what you purchase. No one is ignored or left to guess. We frequently get high praise for our prompt and efficient customer service. Please give a call if you have questions. TRH

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