By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- There’s new treatment giving hope to the millions who suffer from a progressive genetic condition that affects the hand.
Dupuytren’s Disease starts as painless lumps in the palm.
“Gradually those lumps join together by what we call cords, and the cords start to draw in the finger, and that’s called a contracture,” says Dr. Lee Osterman, professor of orthopedic and hand surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The fingers, usually starting with the ring finger, begin to curl in as if you were forming a fist, despite efforts to straighten your hand.
“You don’t have the dexterity to get around simple hand tasks,” he says. “Things like tying shoes, picking up things, washing your face, and shaking hands.”
Osterman says there’s no therapy or exercise to prevent the condition, but he says some patients can avoid surgery with a new biologic treatment called Xiaflex, from Auxilium Pharmaceuticals. It’s injected to soften the cord that causes the contracture.
“With a little local anesthesia, we then break the cord and stretch the finger out,” he explains. “You’ve had no surgery. You can use the hand fairly freely within a week or so. It restores almost a full range of motion and certainly a functional range of motion.”
Osterman says people should seek treatment once they can’t place their hand flat on a table, and not to wait until the fingers are already curled.
For more on Dupuytren’s, go to http://www.dupuytrenfoundation.org/.