Dupuytren’s Contracture II: Dupuytren’s Revenge

It’s been almost ten years since my official diagnosis of Dupuytren’s Contracture. In short, this is a disease that causes hard nodules under the skin of the hand, and one or more fingers loses the ability to straighten and gets more and more curved over time.

In October 2020, I went in for surgery to free up my right pinky, which had become decidedly claw-like. I came out of that with most (not all) of my motion back, and a cool lightning bolt-shaped scar.

Well, over the past year, I’ve noticed the ring finger of my left hand getting more bent. Last time, in part because of other life stuff, I waited long enough that the only option was surgery. This time I wanted to try to fix the problem earlier. The hope was for a less invasive treatment that would be quicker to heal.

What does that treatment involve? Brace yourself. Basically, I went in on Tuesday to get a drug (that the insurance company tried to bill me $5000 for!) injected directly into the cords and nodules in my palm. That stuff weakened the tissue. I returned today, two days later, so the surgeon could numb my hand, then bend my finger back to snap the cords that were restricting the movement.

It sounds horrific, and I admit I was freaked out. I may have postponed the procedure a few months because I hated the idea of it. But honestly, it wasn’t too bad.

The most painful parts were the injections, both the initial drug and the anesthetic that were shot into my palm. The actual snapping of the cords? I barely felt that. I heard it, and I felt the popping, but there was no pain.

I’m a big fan of no pain.

I’m not putting pictures in the blog post, because I know that sort of thing can squick people out. But if you’re curious…

  • The Before Picture: That was as straight as my ring finger would go as of Monday.
  • The Shot: I’ve gotten over a lot of my needle phobia, thanks to the diabetes. This still sucked.
  • After the Snap: Check it out. This was a minute or two after the surgeon finished what they called the “manipulation.”
  • The Splint: I get to wear this at nighttime for the next six months to keep the finger from reverting to its bad habits.

It’s been five hours, and there’s still some numbness, along with the bruising and swelling. I’m told the pain will be coming later tonight and tomorrow. But in the meantime, I’m able to type well enough to do a blog post, and there’s no scarring or stitches or any of that.

One thing that did give me pause today: you see that little white thing taped to the window frame next to the door? Here’s a closer look. That’s a smelling salts packet. You know, in case the patient passes out.

I asked about that, and the surgeon said it most often comes up when they’re removing stitches. I’m happy to say I didn’t pass out or go into shock. I also didn’t look while he was manipulating the finger, and I’m okay with that.

Typing may be limited for the next couple of days, depending on pain and swelling. But so far, I’m happy with the results. And since this condition tends to keep coming back, I’ll probably be doing it again for other fingers at some point in the future.

Just don’t high five me on the left side for a few weeks, okay?