When Heavy-Handed Harry first made an appointment with the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, he was miserable. During the past year or two, he had started to lose the mobility of his fingers. His pinky fingers had started contracting and he wasn’t able to straighten them. Over time, the symptoms had only seemed to get worse. This had started affecting Heavy-Handed Harry’s work as an office manager as a big part of his tasks included gripping and moving heavy items around. It is hard to carry a box of printer paper when you’re not able to grip it properly and it was also quite embarrassing since Heavy-Handed Harry was only in his 40s and otherwise physically felt just fine.
“I first started noticing it at work,” Heavy-Handed Harry explained to his doctor at the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas. “My pinkies would get stuck while carrying a box of office supplies and I wasn’t able to straighten them. I would have to put the box down and ask someone to give me a hand.” The doctor asked Heavy-Handed Harry if he had noticed any other symptoms, such as firm knots in his palms. Heavy-Handed Harry nodded, he had noticed small lumps in his palms but since they were not painful, he hadn’t been too worried about them. The doctor gently pressed Heavy-Handed Harry’s palms and then asked him to place his palm on the table and try to straighten his fingers against the surface.
As Heavy-Handed Harry was not able to straighten his fingers, the doctor explained to him that he was most likely suffering from Dupuytren’s disease, a common hand condition that occurs when the underlying skin of the palm thickens and forms firm lumps of tissue. Eventually, as the cords of tissue tighten, the pinky finger and ring finger can start contracting and the person suffering from the condition is not able to straighten their fingers. The scientists have not been able to determine the cause of the condition.
“So,” Heavy-Handed Harry said, feeling even more desperate, “if we don’t know what is causing this, how can we fix it?” The doctor told Heavy-Handed Harry not to worry, there was a solution to ease his symptoms.
Since Heavy-Handed Harry’s condition had progressed to the level where he wasn’t able to straighten his fingers anymore, the doctor explained to him that the best way to resolve the symptoms was to loosen the cords of tissue that were pulling the pinkies toward the palms. The treatment is called needle aponeurotomy and it is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in-office with local anesthesia, by numbing the palms to avoid pain from the procedure. The procedure is done by inserting a tiny needle into the tissue of the palm that is pulling the fingers to release the contracture.
“A needle?” Heavy-Handed Harry asked. He did not like needles at all. “Are there any other ways to get my fingers agile again?” he prompted. The doctor explained that there were other treatment options. Sometimes, Dupuytren’s disease is treated with a non-surgical option by injecting a very expensive medication into the cord to release the contracture. Another option would be a traditional open surgery that is performed through a large cut on the palm. After discussing all the possible options, Heavy-Handed Harry and the doctor both agreed that needle aponeurotomy was the best treatment option for Heavy-Handed Harry due to the minimally invasive technique and the quick recovery time.
The doctor scheduled Heavy-Handed Harry’s procedure for that same day, and Harry was able to go home shortly after it. And with the local anesthesia, Harry didn’t even feel the needle he was so concerned about! His doctor told him to take it easy for the first couple of days as the fingers and hands may be numb, tingly, and swollen after the procedure. Now, two weeks after the treatment, Harry is fully recovered and back to work serving as the go-to office box mover. He is able to straighten his fingers again and the lumps from his palms are gone.
Are you suffering from similar symptoms as Harry? Don’t wait as long as he did, make an appointment with the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas today, and get your hands back to work!