Dupuytren's Contracture Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Dupuytren's contracture is a disorder that affects the hand. This condition begins with nodules that form in the palm, which can grow into thick cords of tissue. As these cords continue to grow, fingers can be pulled into a bent position, causing a contracture—meaning they are stuck in that position and cannot be straightened out.

This article discusses facts and statistics about Dupuytren's contracture—how common it is, who it affects, and the risk factors for this condition.

Dupuytren's contracture of ring finger on woman's palm.

mbbirdy / Getty Images

Dupuytren's Contracture Overview

Dupuytren's contracture (also known as Dupuytren's disease) is a hand condition that occurs when tissue under the skin—called fascia—becomes abnormally thick. Nodules form and slowly grow into thick cords at the base of the fingers. Over time, the fingers can be pulled into a bent position. While this condition usually is not painful, it can cause significant difficulties with daily tasks.

Dupuytren's contracture most commonly affects the ring finger, then the small (pinky) finger, followed by the thumb. However, it can affect other fingers as well.

Is Dupuytren's Contracture Painful?

Nodules caused by Dupuytren's contracture can be sore to the touch, but this condition is painless for many people. Around 25% of people with Dupuytren's contracture report burning and itching sensations in the affected hand.

How Common Is Dupuytren's Contracture?

Dupuytren's contracture is estimated to affect about 1% of the U.S. adult population. However, this number only reflects people who have seen a healthcare provider for treatment of their condition.

In the early stages of the disease, or if the fingers are not affected, treatment is not usually necessary. As a result, this condition is believed to be more common than reported.

In a worldwide sample of more than 6 million people, Dupuytren's contracture was present in 8.2% of the sampled population.

Dupuytren's contracture is twice as common in the right hand than in the left. However, around 80% of people with this condition will end up with symptoms in both hands.

Dupuytren's Contracture by Ethnicity

In the United States, Dupuytren's contracture is most common in White Americans of Northern European descent.

Less commonly, it affects the following populations in descending order:

  • Hispanic Americans
  • African Americans
  • Asian Americans

Dupuytren's Contracture by Age and Gender

Dupuytren's contracture most commonly develops between ages 40 and 70. The condition is more common in men than women.

Causes of Dupuytren's Contracture and Risk Factors

The exact cause of Dupuytren's contracture is not known. However, certain risk factors make it more likely for a person to develop this condition.

Dupuytren's contracture often runs in families. Other possible risk factors for this condition include:

  • Smoking
  • Prior trauma to the hand
  • Occupations that require manual labor
  • Blood circulation in the hand
  • Long-term use of antiretroviral medications (drugs used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV))
  • Long-term use of anticonvulsant medications (anti-seizure medications)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Dupuytren's contracture is also more common in people with certain medical conditions, including:

Lesions in Other Areas of the Body

Abnormal growth of fascia that occurs with Dupuytren's contracture can affect other parts of the body—including the soles of the feet (Ledderhose's disease) and the penis (Peyronie's disease). Approximately 5% of people with Dupuytren's contracture will also have these conditions.

Screening and Early Detection of Dupuytren's Contracture

There are no official screening tests for Dupuytren's contracture. Early on, individuals with this condition typically notice nodules that have formed in their palms at the base of their fingers. Some people might not notice the condition until they are unable to straighten their fingers fully or place their hand flat on the table.

Dupuytren's is diagnosed by a healthcare provider with a physical exam. No additional tests are needed, but in some cases, imaging such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might be performed to rule out other conditions.

Early detection of Dupuytren's contracture does not prevent it from progressing. However, it could make a difference in treatment options available to help correct the deformity (nonsurgical versus surgical). Even with treatment, Dupuytren's contracture can recur.


Dupuytren's contracture (also called Dupuytren's disease) is caused by abnormally thick fascia in the palm. Nodules develop first, then grow into thick cords of tissue. Over time, this can pull the fingers into a bent position. Around 80% of people with this condition will eventually have symptoms in both hands.

Dupuytren's contracture affects about 1% of the population in the United States, but it is also likely that the condition is underreported. It most commonly begins in middle age and most often affects Caucasian adults of Northern European descent. Dupuytren's contracture also runs in families.

10 Sources
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By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.