We mouse, we drive, we hold things. We take for granted our ability to flatten our hands together in Anjali Mudra. Yet our fingers live in a chronic state of flexion—even at rest they curl in toward the palm. And for some this curling is exacerbated by a disease called Dupuytren’s Contracture.

In Dupuytren’s Contracture, palm tissue thickens and, like a vine, weaves itself into and around the muscles and ligaments of the pinkie and ring fingers (sometimes this affects the index finger and is mis-diagnosed as trigger finger). As the disease progresses, it pulls the affected fingers into deep flexion and renders extension absolutely impossible. As you might image, this condition makes many activities awkward: typing, playing basketball, holding your significant other’s hand.

Dupuytren’s contracture can make simple activites increasingly difficult.

While painless and incurable, the cause of Dupuytren’s Contracture is unknown. It is generally found in men of Nordic descent. It is also personal for me. All the men in my husband’s family have it and my husband has detected its early signs. My father-in-law and brother-in-law have undergone painful surgeries and rehabilitation only to discover the disease recurring a few months later.

Mild cases (and presumably early cases) may be helped with regular finger stretching to promote extension. Although far from a double-blind scientific study, I have charged my husband with doing the following YTU forearm extension exercise (ostensibly a wrist opener, but also a deep finger stretch) whenever he notices his pinkie and ring fingers commencing their notorious palm-ward curl. So far, the Dupuytren’s Contracture exercises and stretches are helping his fingers straighten and stay in extension for noticeable periods of time. Hopefully he can stretch his luck until someone finds a cure. If you have a client who has Dupuytren’s, give this exercise a try (and find more Hand based exercises here).

Heal your aching hands and wrists – Read the article.

Learn about our pain relief solutions for hands and wrists.

Watch our free 5 minute video for hand and wrist pain relief.

Christine Jablonski

I believe most people who end up in the fitness profession are trying to heal themselves. Fifteen years ago I sought out SPIN to rehabilitate a full knee reconstruction. Ten years ago I started Pilates to help me recover from a horseback riding accident. More recently, as still-young age and old injuries caught up with me, I began a restorative and Kripalu yoga practice. In every instance, with every discipline, I've experienced a moment of “ahhh....I want to make everyone feel this good.” And so began my path toward fitness studio ownership where I could keep my classes small and focused on my client's journeys from injury, through healing, and on to strength. In addition to figuring out how my clients and I could feel even better (as well as look better in our jeans), curiosity about human biomechanics led me to study with Helena Collins of Life in Synergy, Sadie Nardini of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, and of course, Jill Miller. Combing the knowledge from these tremendous teachers with my strong Pilates background has enabled me to create exceptionally effective programs for my clients, who range from joint replacement patients needing post-physical therapy help to the “uninjured” wanting stronger, better aligned bodies so they can experience life to the fullest.

13
Leave a Reply

 
13 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
Edwina

This is so great to know! I am noticing a slight and mild case with my husband and an extremely flexed index finger. I was not aware that certain exercises can help with this. I will regularly encourage him to do the deep finger stretch to promote extension. Thank you for posting!

Larry Weaver

I didn’t realize that Dupuytren’s Contracture is generally found in men of Nordic descent. My grandfather has a strong Nordic ancestry in his family, and he has recently been having difficulties with his hands. Perhaps it would be best for him to visit a professional to see if he is developing Dupuytren’s Contracture. https://www.dupuytrensdiseasesupportgroup.com/

Christie

My Scandinavian great grandfather suffered from Dupuytren’s as well.

Chad

The first thing I thought was “This is so fascinating!” which is exactly what others have said. I’ve seen this in people but never knew what it was called, or what population it is prominent in. Thank you for shedding light on something I hadn’t questioned previously.

Matthew Coe

Fascinating and sad, thanks for this informative post. It’s difficult enough to stave off the effects of our heavy hand and wrist use with our culture’s immersion in the digital age of smart devices and computers, then you have aging’s knock on effects, and in a worst case the added impact of a debilitating disease. We do have to protect and “armor” the tissues of our hands, wrists, and arms against this daily weathering assault. From targeted stretches and strengthening exercises found in YTU or other modalities, to the use of YTU’s Therapy balls, so much can be done to… Read more »

Kristin

Thanks for the information Christine! There is arthritis on both sides of my family and this effects the fingers and hands as well. It is astounding how fingers can be completely deformed or out of commission within a relatively short amount of time. I would like to believe everything is curable! The YTU exercises provided for the hands and wrists are a fantastic starting point for everyone to keep things circulating and fluid (as much as possible) in that area. You know the ol’ saying “If you don’t use it you’ll lose it!”

Danielle

My friend seems to have the same problem of having his hands curl up in a perpetual flexion (perhaps the beginning stages of Dupuytren’s Contracture). I will suggest he try the exercises prescribed. Could the contractions in the ligaments that cause the palm to curl be from tightness higher up the arm? It seems like they might be related!

Marie Mbouni

Wow, thank you for reminding us about the importance of being able to flatten our hands, I have to agree that I take it or granted, Even Anjali Mudra that we use so much in yoga? Now I will be mindful and learn how o integrate ” extension” exercises.
Thank you!

Lindsay E

The hands, wrists, and forearms are an area I never think to spend much time on even though it is the part of my body that gets the majority of use on any given day – the use of a mouse, keyboard, and cell phone absolutely has to be taking it’s toll. Even though I love these stretches when they come up during my practice, I never think to do them on my own. Knowing how bad constant flexion of the fingers is for you, I will make an effort to work those areas outside of the studio as well.

Keith Wittenstein

Wow, this is fascinating. I am strength coach so we do a LOT of grip training. The flexors get extremely overworked. So I periodically use little rubber bands to do extension exercises. I also do lots of exercises like this which are partially inspired by Glenn Black for myself and my athletes: http://www.forcedistancetime.com/2011/07/21/forearm-blast/

Sherry Matwe

Dear Christine, Thank you for putting this post on line – my husband is in the beggining stage of ‘trigger finger’ with a hard little bump along his tenton in the palm – his Docter suggested that he rub vitamine e into his hand and to eventually prepare for surgery. The surgery is similar to a carpaltunnel surgery. Recently I have introduced him to the yoga tune up dvd’s and he likes how practical and real world they are – me too. However I will certainly show him your extention streches.

Terry Ford

We all tend to take for granted the comfort of movement until we are no longer pain free or an injury occurs. As you say in your “bio”, each time you felt discomfort or an injury caught up to you – that was the time to find a remedy, luckily pushing you into the field you are in. As practitioners in the health and wellness field, if we can educate willing clients before the discomfort all the better. One of my Zumba participants last year described a surgery she was having was as a result of “trigger finger”, so I’m… Read more »

dilshad keshwani

Thanks Christine. I always find your articles very informative. I have watched the quick fixes by Jill. They are so effective. Yoga Tune up has given us access to practical solutions to our problems with scientific explanations. I thank the moment when I decided to do this training. It was a blessed moment. Recently, one of my private clients shared her concern of elbow sensitivity. I taught her these movements and wow, her concern got melted.