By Dr. Charles Eaton
Dupuytren disease is an inherited condition which can affect the hands. It causes scar tissue to form inside the palm, which tightens up over time. As it does, it prevents the fingers from being able to straighten. Early on, people find that they can’t wash their face without poking their nose, can’t get their hand in their pocket, can’t shake hands – a million things in daily life. As it progresses, it can be crippling. Severe Dupuytren disease can require finger amputation. There are surgical procedures for it, but they have risks and often are only a temporary help. Severe Dupuytren disease can also result in problems in the feet, shoulders, the penis, and can affect overall health.
Dupuytren disease affects families but can skip generations. Most often, it first appears in mid-life and is most common in seniors. It may not be noticed by others because it stiffens fingers into the position they are at rest: bent.
Surgeons treat Dupuytren disease, but surgery is not a cure. Most Dupuytren research has been on improving surgery, but long-term surgery results haven’t improved in 50 years. The nonprofit Dupuytren Foundation is conducting new research to develop medical treatment for Dupuytren disease with the help of a Dupuytren blood test. The goal is not only to reduce the need for hand surgery, but to improve the overall health and quality of life of people and families affected by Dupuytren disease.
Dr. Charles Eaton is Founder and Executive Director of the Dupuytren Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity advocating for those affected by Dupuytren disease. Dr. Eaton is a hand surgeon who specialized in Dupuytren disease treatment. He closed his surgical practice and currently works full time managing the Dupuytren Foundation and supervising Dupuytren Foundation research. He believes that the best form of advocacy for Dupuytren disease is to develop a cure, and this is his goal.