A long but finally successful search for the right doctor
I am a retired 74 year old living in Tucson, Arizona. About fifteen years ago I noticed that the little finger of my left hand was beginning to gradually curl up so that it was becoming steadily unusable. Alarmed, I notified my primary physician who didn’t seem especially concerned, but eventually referred me to a hand surgeon.
The hand surgeon told me bluntly that it was too far gone for surgery and I had two options: live with it or amputate. He said that if my line of work involved being around machinery where it might be potentially hazardous he would recommend amputation. Since I was a physicist I decided on living with it.
Leaving his office I was very discouraged and depressed because I felt somehow there must be another option. About three years ago I began to notice that the little and ring fingers of my right hand were beginning to exhibit the same symptoms as the left had done. My earlier experience with hand surgeons discouraged me from seeking their advice and I determined to live with it. By this time my left little finger was extremely bent and completely dysfunctional.
Then, my attention was caught by article in the July 24, 2007 edition of The New York Times entitled "Straightening Bent Fingers, No Surgery Required" by Kate Murphy link_to_article. The article discussed a technique developed in France which appeared to be very successful in treating Dupuytrens. At this time, the afflicted fingers of my right hand were becoming painful as well as dysfunctional and I decided I would seek out a surgeon who used the French technique.
To my dismay I found that there were only fifteen clinics in the U. S. practicing the French technique. Fortunately, two of these were in California’s Bay Area, a relatively short distance from Tucson. In addition, my older brother and his wife, as well as his daughter, a physical therapist, live in that area and offered assistance with lodging and transportation.
I chose Dr. Keith Denkler as the prospective surgeon mainly because he had studied the French technique in France and his clinic was in Larkspur, Ca only 54 miles from Saratoga, Ca, where my brother lives.
I began communicating with Dr. Denkler by email and sent pictures of the afflicted areas of both my hands. His reply was that my right hand was a candidate for the French technique, but my left little finger was so far gone that its use was problematical.
Here is my left hand - before the procedure. Note that the little finger is frozen in that position.
On my first visit Dr. Denkler suggested that he treat my right hand and then consult on what he could be done on the left. That visit was scheduled for June 14, 2008 and the right was done in a relatively short time. Dr. Denkler then turned his attention to my left little finger. He anesthetized the area and proceeded to apply his technique (needle only). After what seemed like a few minutes, he pronounced it finished and declared I would not have to be inconvenienced by a return trip. I was absolutely astonished Dr. Denkler then muttered something about the surgeon wanting to cut it off as he released me. The result:
My left hand - after procedure. My little finger is fully extended and completely functional.
The result of the procedure on my right ring and little finger turned out fine. Now, for well over a decade I can do simple things again such as clapping and cupping water with both hands and more complex things such as touch typing. I feel as though I have a new pair of hands.