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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Is it better to have surgery on Dupuytren's contracture early, or should I wait?

Q) I was interested in your remark on page 16 of the summer 2009 Arthritis Today, namely that 'it's best not to leave this condition [Dupuytren’s] too late'. I had the operation for Dupuytren’s on my left hand some years ago, and since then, I've developed the condition in my right hand. My GP seems keen to delay the operation (this also applied with the left hand), although I'm not exactly sure why. He points out that the fingers have not yet bent over very far, which is true, and he makes the point about the need in many cases for the operation to be repeated after a number of years. It may be that my doctor is concerned about possible nerve damage. Is it better to get the Dupuytren’s dealt with quickly, or is it sometimes advisable to wait? (I'm in no pain in my right hand, and there is as yet no inconvenience due to fingers pointing at strange angles).
David Bailey, Allestree, Derby (Autumn 2009)

A) Surgeons will vary with the advice they give on the timing of the operation. No surgeon will want to operate if it's not bothering you, but once it becomes troublesome many will argue that it's best not to leave it too late as this only makes the operation more difficult to do and reduces the chance of a successful outcome. Only very occasionally is another operation necessary and nerve damage is only a very rare complication of this operation.

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