Anna’s story how Dupuytren’s developed, is now affecting her hand and may be related to other diseases

Having heard a BBC Radio 4 programme concerning recent use of clostridial collagenase as an alternative to open surgery - I found links to the Society.  Besides my own experience perhaps contributing to any survey, I also as a woman noticed the link to frozen shoulder and to the trauma from surgery.  

I am age 64, fit and generally healthy.  I am a British film-maker and artist.  I am also a musician (piano).

The middle finger and little finger of my right hand began to trigger around 2006 after extensive repetitive manual work preparing surfaces (involving pressure particularly to the middle and outer finger) daily on and off over 2 years. 

In 2007 I was referred for open surgery at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital London.  During the surgery I asked the surgeon if she could see any sign of Dupuytren’s contracture.  She released the tendon to both fingers. She could not see signs of Dupuytren’s.  

The incision to the middle finger healed well, but the longitudinal scar has never completely healed.

About 4 - 5 months after the operation, presumably triggered by the trauma, the skin to the inner side of the scar in the palm began to pucker and a painful lump developed.  This affected my grasp, the little finger is used in fine drawing to steady and control the rest of the hand and one might be drawing for up to 3 hours at a time.  This became uncomfortable.

I was put on hand watch and told the trauma had probably triggered the latent genetic disease (my father around 65 - 68 had Dupuytren’s of the little finger and ring finger to both hands, worse to the left than to the right whereas mine is terrible to the right and perhaps early warning signs only to the left in mild triggering of the little and fore finger).

As I play the piano I have kept stretching out my hands and doing individual stretches and rotation of the fingers.

Over the last year my hand has begun to give me real grief. A very hard nodule forming just beneath the little finger knuckle joint to the hand and another on the line of the scar (which still keeps peeling) and pain lower down like a string towards the wrist.

So now if I wanted to press up on my hands it is exceedingly painful.  I also have difficulty reaching octaves.  Working on computer holding the mouse, say for film editing as we now do, results in chronic stiffness and pain.  I am still able to keep my palm flat - but over the past 6 months I would say the determination to keep my stretch has simply prevented the growth forming where it wants to (not radical like Schumann's hand stretching device).

This is mostly stretch exercises in the morning and in practice.  I cannot flex my ring and little finger back - this was never good but now it is bad. So I read with interest the papers on your website and thought I should join any trials you might be doing or contribute my data.

Also sadly, my husband, after a major arm op following dislocated shoulder and torn tendons from a high dive, began to contract Dupuytren’s in his left hand. But his history is more complex as he has also had various chemotherapy treatments for low grade lymphoma.  So I will leave it to him to provide further details.

As for me, yes my father suffered bitterly from the disease.  Mine started after the trigger finger trauma and surgery with poor healing.  The progression has been quite slow but over the last year causing tears.

As I enjoyed extreme dexterity and control drawing in particular (I have never had a brilliant stretch on piano), it is like losing one's right hand on which basically you depend for a living.  It affects for instance something as basic as the flourish of a signature. So I would be grateful to become a member if it is open to the public and join in any research projects you are doing along with my husband.

The other thing is that both of us have had shoulder injuries.  I had a frozen shoulder around 1992 from excessive camera work - which repaired with physio and then serious freeze of the left shoulder but this was from loading heavy equipment.  This was healed with steroid injection.  I do not have full movement on the left.  


August 2012