Dupuytren's Contracture: Hand Exercises

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on August 15, 2021
  • hands-holding-on-table
    What Dupuytren's Contracture Does to the Hands
    Dupuytren's contracture is a slow, progressive deformity that can affect one or both hands. It typically results in a claw-like contracting of the hand with the pinky and ring finger curled into the palm. Dupuytren's contracture is caused by thickening and stiffening of the tissue underneath the skin in the palm of the hand. Most cases are diagnosed after age 50 and its more common with advancing age.
  • portrait of smiling senior woman lifting hand weight
    When Hand Exercises Are Appropriate
    Hand exercises will not prevent Dupuytren's or slow down its progression. However, they may be helpful if you have an early or mild form of the disease. Hand exercises tend be most important after surgery, which is the recommended treatment for advanced Dupuytren's. Because every person is unique, check with your doctor or physical therapist to see if and how hand exercises can help your particular situation.
  • blistering second-degree burn on woman's fingers
    Finger Lifts
    For this exercise, you place your hand down flat on a table and exercise just one finger at a time. Lift each finger off the table and hold it up for a few seconds. If your fingers are too stiff or curled to do this exercise, do not try to forcefully extend or stretch them. This could make your contracture worse.
  • Comparing swollen male hands
    Finger Spreads
    Dupuytren's contracture most commonly affects the ring and pinky fingers, but all your fingers could be involved. One common finger flexibility exercise is to put your hand down flat on a table and practice spreading all your fingers as far apart as you can and then bringing them back together.
  • Physical therapy exercises
    Grip Exercises
    To maintain dexterity and strengthen your grip, you can practice picking up objects with your hand. Start out with larger objects, which will be easier to do, and then work your way down to smaller objects. You can also try improving your grip by squeezing a small towel or a piece of paper into a small ball.
  • doctor examining female patient's hand
    Thumb Exercises
    To exercise your thumb, make an "O" by touching the tip of your thumb to the tip of each finger, one by one. Another exercise is to hold your hand out flat in front of you with your fingers together. Next, spread your thumb out away from the other fingers, and then try to touch your thumb to the base of your pinky finger before returning your hand to the spread position.
  • hand-splint
    After Surgery
    The most common surgery for Dupuytren's contracture is called fasciotomy. This surgery removes or splits the thickened tissue under the palm of your hand. After surgery you may need to wear a splint for a certain period. Elevating your hand above your chest level and gently moving your fingers can help relieve pain and stiffness during this time.
  • hand-massage
    Occupational or Physical Therapy
    Working with an occupational or physical therapist, specifically one who specializes in the hand, is important.  Hand exercises may be started within a few days after surgery. Your therapist will teach you how to do gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. After recovery, you may be able to continue these exercises at home.
Dupuytren's Contracture: Hand Exercises
  1. Dupuytren's Contracture. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00008
  2. Management of Dupuytren's disease: clear advice for an elusive condition. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2006; 88: 3–8 doi 10.1308/003588406X83104. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1963648/pdf/rcse8801-003.pdf
  3. Hand and Finger Exercises. Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. https://patienteducation.osumc.edu/Documents/hnds-fin.pdf

Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 15
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.