Diabetes and Dupuytren’s Contracture

Diabetics can develop complications other people don’t have, or at least they’re more prone to them and diabetes and Dupuytren’s contracture, or disease, is one of them.

I’ve been developing Dupuytren’s on both hands for a few years now, say about six or so. While it wasn’t cramping my style too much it was painful if pressure was applied. On my left hand I wasn’t able to straighten my little finger which had developed a swelling and contraction which had in turn contracted the ring finger next to it. My right hand also has it though not quite to the extent my left hand does – yet.

The pics show the swelling pre-op (left) and my fingers are extended as far they can go (right):

Diabetes and dupuytren's contracture, pre-op1

Diabetes and dupuytren's contracture, pre-op2

With it affecting both hands I’m not able to do decent push ups (as if I ever could!) and pressing up on the side of the pool to climb out is rather ungainly – so I use the steps :-/

Both my mum and dad have it. Dad’s type 1, mum isn’t diabetic but she’s been under the knife on both little fingers as the situation had become pretty bad.

So I thought I’d see what I could get done before it got any worse. The Pulvertaft Clinic at Derby Hospital has a good reputation and my GP booked me in to see the consultant, Mary O’Brien. I met her at end-December and on 26th Feb I was lying on the operating table.

I was given what’s called needle aponeurotomy. The procedure involved a local anaesthetic in the palm of the hand where the Dupuytren’s is, then sawing or filing away at the chord underneath the skin. Whhoooaaaa! Then the little finger was bent back as far as it would go as if getting a really tough Thai massage or stretching first thing in the morning, and you could hear the chord snap the further back it was bent. Yeeaah! Pretty intense.

It didn’t really hurt to be honest. It was more the thought of having needles stuck in to the palm of your hand. I was a big, brave boy 🙂

Each local anaesthetic worked immediately. No waiting for it to settle in. Then straight in with the file. I think I had four injections with filing and bending. Each one brought the finger more inline with my other fingers and interestingly my ring finger was brought back inline as well.

She was unwilling to go any further as the skin could break and there could be healing problems and infection and what not.

I used to be really good at a game called Peanuts we used to play at school whereby you’d lock hands with your opponent and try and bend each others fingers back as far as possible until one of you relents and shouts ‘Peanuts’. I think those days might be over now.

Diabetes and Dupuytren’s Contracture Result

My hand is much improved. The swelling is no longer so pronounced (left) and I can pretty much fully extend my fingers (right).

Diabetes and dupuytren's contracture, post-op1 Diabetes and dupuytren's contracture, post-op1

The Dupuytren’s won’t go away. I knew that from the start. However my little finger is far much more inline with my other fingers. It’s still a little tender when pressure’s applied but the swelling caused by the Dupuytren’s is much reduced. My ring finger is back in place – not that I need or wear a ring though.

Overall I’m pretty happy with it.