sunnuntai 12. helmikuuta 2012

After a plaster cast, a wrist, hand or knuckles may be stiff and need mobilization, but with the right exercises the hand will recover. A trauma in the hand or work can activate a predisposition to Dupuytren's contracture. This happened to me, two times. The first rehabilitation took two years and I needed an operation. In the second case I started stretching exercises as soon as possible, and avoided operation. However, I need to exercise my both hands every day.



Blog contents: 

I - Hand rehabilitation after plaster cast at home  in case of special problems

1. Plaster cast care, 
2. Exercises for a hand in plaster cast or wrist support
3. Mobilization exercises for hand and fingers after plaster cast, 
4. Wrist stretching and mobilization after plaster cast,  
5. Water gymnastic and swimming,  
6. Hand warming,  
7. Skin care & massage of the scar, 
8. Swelling, 
9. Strength training & gym

II -  Hand exercises in case of special problems: stiffness, pulling sensation, bent fingers 

1. Stiff hand and fingers 
2. Pulling sensation, tightness and feelings of cramps or pain in the hand
3. How to straighten the fingers with stretching
4. Finger splints help to straighten the fingers,
5. Stretches & finger splints help the fingers to bend 
6. The first symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture


III -  The case of my left hand - bent and stiffened fingers

1. Injury and rehabilitation, 2. Hand rehabilitation schedule was the following, 
3. Pain
4. Summary of the rehabilitation, 
5. Maintenance training,
6. The situation 4 years later, in 2014


IV -  The case of my right hand - Dupuytren's contracture

1. Injury and rehabilitation, 
2. The situation one year later
3. An evident case of of Dupuytren's contracture in the family
4. Orthopedic links, Dupuytren's contracture, vitamin D, 

V Rehabilitation after plaster cast at home & 2 Hand rehabilitation cases, e-book 0,90 €

VI - Sprained finger knuckle - Active Isolated Stretching


I - Hand rehabilitation with and after plaster cast at home 

1. Plaster cast care 

Keep your arm or leg raised on a pillow for the first 12 hours and rest. This will help any swelling to go down. Continue to do this for another 12 hours if the cast still feels tight.

Don't get your plaster cast wet. This will weaken it and your bone will no longer be properly supported.

You can use a plastic bag to cover up the cast when you have a bath or shower. Try using sticky tape or a rubber band to seal the bag at the top and bottom, to make it as watertight as possible. Alternatively, it is possible to buy special covers for plaster casts to keep them dry. Ask your local pharmacist (chemist) for more information.
Always remove the bag as soon as you can, to avoid causing sweating, which could also damage the cast.

Even if the plaster cast makes your skin feel very itchy, don't be tempted to poke anything underneath it. This could cause a nasty sore. The itchiness should settle down after a few days.

More plaster cast tips

- Don't let any small objects fall inside your cast, as they could irritate your skin.
- Don't try to alter the length or position of your cast.
- Don't lift anything heavy or drive until the cast has been removed.
- Use crutches or a sling, as advised by your health professional.

Plaster cast problems

You should go to A&E (accident and emergency) if:
- plaster cast still feels too tight after keeping it elevated for 24 hours,
- fingers feel swollen, tingly, painful (even after taking painkillers) or numb,
- fingers turn blue or white,
- cast feels too loose,
- cast is broken or cracked,
- the skin underneath or around the edge of your cast feels sore, or
- there is an unpleasant smell or discharge coming from your cast.
 If you have any concerns about your plaster cast, you can call a doctor for advice.Source: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2543.aspx?CategoryID=72&SubCategoryID=721

I would add the following reasons to contact a doctor:
- if the swelling appears after the plaster cast put in wrist operation is changed
- if the elevated position of the hand is the only comfortable position (after the first days)
- if you start to feel pulling or cramp in your finger(s)
- if your fingers start to bend and stay crooked

In case of a wrist operation, the fingers are usually not swollen, because there is gauze under the plaster cast. When this cast is taken away and changed to a new plaster cast or wrist support, you get under it a tubular bandage. If the swelling appears after the change of the cast or support, the tubular bandage is too tight. 

2. Exercises for a hand in plaster cast or wrist support

You can start the exercises as soon as the cast is dry. 
Repeat every exercise 10 times and 3 - 5 times per day. 

Cast on the hand can complicate gripping, reaching, dressing, writing and eating. 
Try to use your hand as much as you can in normal activities, but avoid lifting heavy objects during the first 100 days after a fracture or bone operation.

In some cases you get, for the last weeks, a wrist support instead a plaster cast.

Exercise for the thumb 

Bend the thumb slowly towards the little finger (pinkie) base, and then extend the thumb to the side.  Repeat 10 times.
Touch with the thumb the tip of the finger, bending the finger at the same time, then extend the finger straight. 
Repeat 10 times with each finger.



Bend and extend the fingers

In case your fingers feel stiff or tense, keep the hand in vertical position, bend the fingers to tight fist and keep for 10 sec, then extend the fingers straight and keep for 10 sec.

Repeat the exercise a few times.


Extend the fingers wide apart

Extend the fingers straight and then wide apart, as much as possible and stretch during 10 seconds, then bring the fingers back together. Repeat the stretch a few times.

Shoulder

a. Lift your arm up so that your overarm touches your ear
b. Stand with your back against a wall. Lift your arm sideways up, straight. Let your arm glide downstairs touching the wall. 
c. Lift your arms up and bring them behind your neck, so that the fingers touch. Then, move your elbows backwards. 
d. Bring you hand in plaster cast behind your back and try to touch the shoulder blade on the other side of your back. 

Elbow

Bend the elbow, extend the elbow ( if not in plaster cast)

Swelling in plaster cast or wrist support

In case the hand is swollen, keep your hand as much as possible in vertical or elevated position. Repeat the exercise "Bend and extend the fingers" and try to pump away the swelling. This exercise doesn't always help. 

If the tubular bandage is unpleasant and you have a feeling that it is too tight, change the bandage, if possible. Sometimes hospitals have only on size of bandage, but they are sold in pharmacies.

3. Mobilization exercises for hand and fingers after plaster cast or wrist support

After a plaster cast, wrist, hand or fingers need workout, you will get the instructions from a physiotherapist specialized in hand rehabilitation. Physiotherapist in hospitals gave these instructions.

Hand and finger exercises are to do every day, a good rule is every two hours. Make the gymnastics very slowly, take the movement as far as possible and keep the end position for some time, and stretch.

In addition of the gym, use and move your hand as diverse ways as possible, but avoid lifting heavy objects during the first 100 days after a fracture or bone operation.
Check with a specialist physiotherapist, when you can start training with weights.

Thumb flexion 

Slowly bend your thumb toward the little finger base and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Assist if necessary. Then extend your thumb to the side. Repeat 5 - 10 times.
Slowly, touch with the thumb the tip of each finger, and extend the finger after the touch. Repeat five times per finger. This exercise was given when my hand was still in the plaster cast. 
Exercise catching of small objects with the fingers.

DIP joint flexion. 

If you do not have the plastic disc, bend the DIP joint of a single finger and at the same time keep the PIP joint straight with the other hand. 
Keep the fingertip bent from 5 to 10 seconds and then extend the finger straight. Repeat 5 - 10 times for each finger. 
I got the yellow foam disc (7,5 cm x 2 cm / 2.92 inch x 0.78 inch) in Tunisia.

PIP joint flexion 

Make the same movement, each finger separately, but bend the PIP joint and hold the flexion of 5 to 10 sec period. Extend your finger straight. Repeat 5 - 10 times for each finger.

Bending one finger at a time 

Keep your fingers straight and slowly bend one finger toward the palm. The movement is easier to do, if you keep your other fingers in place with the help of the other hand. Keep the bend from 5 to 10 seconds and then extend your fingers straight. Repeat 3 to 5 times for each finger.

Note: If you fingers are bent, even slightly, after repeated bending they will be more bent. The counter movement is straightening stretch against a firm surface; the use of ring splints will help also.

Knuckles flexion

Bend the knuckles at right angle, keep the fingers straight, and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Extend your fingers straight and hold for 5 - 10 seconds. Repeat 5 - 10 times.

Palm rolling with a ball

Put the hand on top of an appropriately sized ball and roll the ball with the palm, from the bottom of the palm up to the fingertips. Repeat 30 times.

Squeeze of a sponge or a ball 

A strong squeeze is an excellent way to increase strength in hand and fingers and to eliminate tension. 
Keep the wrist behind and squeeze the ball in slowly for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times. 
You may start with a sponge.
When you move to a ball, you need to find the right size and right flexibility, not too soft. I found this ball in a toy store and it's diameter is about 6,5 cm (2.53 inch). By squeezing it, I can flatten it out to a disc, which height is under 3 cm (about 1 inch).

When the hand and fingers become stronger, you need to change the ball to a firmer one.

The counter movements of squeeze are the straightening stretch against a table; and the stretch for cramp removal; make them, if necessary. 

Squeeze of grains

Put your hand inside a cotton pouch filled with 2 kg of grains (wheat), and squeeze the grains with your hand.  Ask a physiotherapist for further instructions. 

You can also warm can the pouch in micro-oven for 4 to 5 minutes, before you do this exercise. See section 6. Hand warming. The temperature is maintained for a long time in grains.

Stretching exercises for hand and fingers

Stretch wide apart 

Spread the fingers apart widely, stretch during 10 seconds, and then bring them back together. Repeat the stretch a few times.

Some time ago, and from time to time, the PIP-joint in my little finger in the right hand began to bend like a "gear". It was hurt in School, during a volley match, when I was 15 years old. When this happens, I do a stretch wide apart and it helps, at least for a while.

Hand cramp removal 

After the both surgeries, when the plaster cast was removed, I felt cramps in the hand and the fingers; and the fingers bended spontaneously. If you make precision handwork for long periods without resting the hands, they can also cramp. For this reason, in some craft books there are stretching instructions for cramp removal.

For removal, stretch the palm and fingers using your other hand.  You can also push the fingers against the surface of a table and stretch. Do also other hand stretches and massage the hand. This stretch is an excellent counter movement after the bend/extend stretch or after squeezing a foam disc.

4. Wrist stretching and mobilization after plaster cast

After a plaster cast, the wrist may be stiff and needs stretching. 
Exercise and swimming in warm water is the best way to rehabilitate a stiff wrist and hand; it improves the movements and flexibility. 
If this isn't possible, you can do the following exercises:

Wrist rotation 

Place your forearm on a table palm down, then turn the palm up and hold for 10 seconds Repeat from 3 to 5 times. 
You can also do a stretch in such a way that you put your elbow to your side and slowly rotate your forearm so that palm looks alternately up and down, and hold the position for 10 seconds.

Wrist Stretch 

Pull the hand against a low table and then turn the arm to more upright position so that the stretch can be felt inside of the wrist; keep the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.

Wrist stretch backwards and forwards without a weight 

Place your the forearm on a table so, that the palm is outside the table edge and facing downwards. Bend your fingers in a fist and lift your wrist up (back) and hold for10 seconds. Extend your fingers and bend your wrist downward (forward) and hold for 10 seconds

Wrist stretch backwards and forwards with a weight 

To boost the wrist lift upwards and downwards do the exercise with a small weight, at most up to six pounds (500 g). The physiotherapist recommended this movement one month after the finger surgery. Check with a specialist physiotherapist, when you can start training with weights.

Stretch the wrists from side to side with interlaced fingers 

Put your elbows on the table, raise your hands and interlace your fingers.
a) Bend your wrists gently from side to side and front - back.
b) Turn the hands so that you see the back of your right and left hand alternately.
Repeat both exercises from 5 to 10 times.

Stretch the wrists with interlaced fingers 

Interlace the fingers so that the palms are towards yourself and then turn the hands slowly to opposite direction. Repeat a few times. 
The physiotherapist in Djerba / Tunisia asked me to do this exercise, and I wasn't able to do it the first day, but the next day I was.

5. Water gymnastic and swimming

Exercise and swimming in warm water is a very good way to rehabilitate a stiff wrist; it improves the flexibility. 
In Helsinki, there is a hydrotherapy pool in Mäkelänrinne, where the water is slightly warmer than in the normal pool.

This blue water gym equipment, stretching gently the palm, was in use in Djerba /Tunisia,  as well as the yellow foam disc. The Spa had a warm seawater pool at 30 ° C, and the possibility for individual rehabilitation.

My program included mainly two types of movements:

- I walked in the pool, bringing the knees up sharply, and at the same time I did twisting and turning movements with the wrists and hands, using a light tool to increase the resistance.
- I moved forward along the railing of the pool with the help of my hands, turning the wrist up and down alternately, in this exercise I did not touch the bottom of the pool with my feet.
The physiotherapist made the same movements and corrected immediately, if I didn’t do the movement properly.

With the help of water gymnastic, the flexibility of my wrist increased much more in one week than with mobilization exercises during the three preceding months.

6. Hand warming

Hand warming increases the mobility of the hand and fingers, remove the tension and increase the sense of flexibility in hands. 

Warming can be made with 2 kg of grains (wheat), in a cotton pouch, which is heated in micro-oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Put the hand in the pouch, do different movements and squeeze the grains. Ask a physiotherapist for further instructions. The temperature is maintained for a long time in grains.

Quick warming can also be made with a small heating pad (electric). 

Warm water increases the flexibility in the hand, and a warm shower directed to the hand activates the blood circulation. 

You get good exercise for the hand and fingers when you wash clothes by hand, in warm water. In case you need to increase the flexibility of your wrist, water gymnastic is much more efficient.

Keep the hands warm in draughty and air-conditioned areas by using gloves or fingerless gloves. Hands stay warm at night with woolen fingerless gloves; they also reduce the stiffness in the hands in the morning. Choose a model, which is not too tight.

7. Skin care & massage of the scar 

Rotate the scar

Skin care after plaster cast

If you have been in a cast for several weeks, “dead” skin can build up under the cast.  Once the cast is removed, you can remove part of the “dead” skin with oil. If the skin is very dry, you can also soak your skin in warm water twice a day, and then use some oil or a cream for dry skin.  Rub dry gently with a terry towel, and be careful not to damage the new skin.  

Massage of the scar

Massage improves the circulation of the hand and takes care of the scar. 
After an operation, you may initiate the massage of the scar after the removal of stitches. 

Rotate the skin of the scar, so that the scar is moving. If you do not rub the scar enough, this massage feels painful. After you have stopped the massage, check the condition of the scar from time to time. If the rotation of the scar starts to feel painful again, restart the regular massage. 
You can use a cream for dry skin or an oil to the massage.

You can prevent the hypertrophy of the scar with a silicone cream (Kelo-cote). Ask your physiotherapist for more instructions. 

8. Swelling

After surgery, the hand was swollen, specially the backside of the hand. About six months later it began to look better, except that the fingers were hooked.
The knuckles were also reddish for a few months. The physical therapist in hospital proposed some drugs, but because I had no pain, I didn’t try them.

After the finger and knuckles operation the hand and fingers were swollen again, and most of the swelling decreased after about four months.

Also the PIP-joints thickened in the finger surgery, especially the PIP joint of the little finger, which thinned slowly, taking 15 months. In the ring and middle finger the PIP-joints returned to the normal size after one year.

I didn’t do anything special because of the swelling, but I gave my hand a daily water jet massage. For more efficiency, alternate the temperature of the water, between warm and cold.
Water aerobics and swimming are also likely to be good activities to swollen hand.

9. Strength Training & gym

Hand rehabilitation specialist physiotherapist will give to you instructions and schedule for the strength training.
You can start workout in the gym quite soon after the plaster cast, but adapt the training for the hand, and ask advice from a trainer before you start. Strength training reduces stiffness.

Sometimes the wrist with titan may not like turning or twisting movements when you use bigger weights, in that case modify the exercise so that you keep the wrist straight.


II - Hand exercises in case of special problems: stiffness, pulling sensation, bent fingers


1. Stiff hand and fingers 

After a plaster cast, hand and fingers may be stiff. Finger can stiffen also after a small injury.


The use of finger splits and the stretching of the fingers straight against a table stiffen the hand and fingers; likewise the hand can be rigid or there can be a feeling of tension in the fingers for other reasons.

There are two different exercises which help to remove stiffness:

Bend / extend stretch


Bend the wrist in back position and then bend the fingers into a fist, as tight as possible and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. In case the fingers do not bend correctly, try to bend them more during the 10 seconds.

Then extend the fingers as straight as possible, and try to extend the fingers even more during the 10 seconds.  Repeat 3 to 5 times. Renew the bend/extend stretch several times during the day. 

This stretch is important, if the fingers do not bend correctly, or if the fingers feel stiff when you bend them to fist, e.g. after the use of finger splints. This stretch never causes rigid fingers.


Bending of the fingers is easier, if the wrist is bent behind and not straight.

I had the feeling that the very slow bend/extend stretch also helped to straighten the fingers. 
Do this exercise if:
- The fingers do not bend well
- The fingers do not straighten well
- Stiff hand and fingers

PE Foam disc squeeze

A strong squeeze is an excellent way to increase flexibility in hand and fingers and to eliminate stiffness or the feeling of tightness in the fingers.

Keep the wrist behind and squeeze the disc very slowly as much as you can, then extend your fingers straight.
Repeat 10 times. You may assist slightly with the other hand, but only if necessary, and only in the beginning. 




KNUCKLES STRETCH

If the major knuckles do not bend properly, bend the knuckles and press the hand against a flexible but not too soft support. Move the weight of your hand over the fingers, as far as you can, and hold for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat a few times. 

You can do this stretch with straight or bent fingers, try both.
In the case one of the major knuckles seems to "disappear", this stretch is very important.

Use this stretch in the case of:

- Stiff hand and fingers
- Problems with little finger (pinkie)
- Feeling of tightness or pain when you bend the fingers

KNUCKLES STRETCH WITH AN AID (HipperSmile)


A polyethylene water gym tool (HipperSmile) can be used for an agreeable and efficient knuckles stretch together with a PE foam disc. You just need to get the knuckles in an angle of 90 degrees. 
Stretch at least half an hour at a time, three times a day. 

This is very important, especially in the case one of the knuckles seem to "disappear", because the other option is an operation.

Use this stretch in the case of:
- The fingers do not bend well
- Feeling of tightness or pain when you bend the fingers

2. Pulling sensation, tightness and feelings of cramps or pain in the hand


In case you feel pulling sensation, tightness or pain in the tendons of your palm or fingers when the hand is in cast or wrist support, or after it, it can lead to an inability to extend or bend the fingers well and cause later permanently bent fingers, if nothing is done. 
If you have feelings of cramp in your hand, the result may be the same. 

A pulling sensation can lead to a contracture in the hand or fingers, as it happened in my hand.

You may also have difficulties when you extend your hand, your palm may stay a little bit bent and one of the fingers may be out of align.
In case you have also some callus-like spots in you palm, you may see the first symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture in your hand.

Observation isn't recommended, because during the observation the hand and fingers may stiffen and your palm contract, then the only option is a surgery, one ore more times. 
Instead, start daily stretching exercises as soon as possible, because they help only when your hand and fingers are still flexible.

Pulling sensation in the palm - palm stretch against a wall



Pull the palm against a wall and press your hand against it. Then turn the arm to more upright position so that the angle of the wrist is bigger; hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.


In case you have a warm wall surface, for ex. an internal hot water pipe in your bathroom, use this area for the stretch, it feels better. This is a good stretch in case of the "calluses" in the hand.


The better you get your hand against the wall and the bigger angle you get in your wrist, the better the stretch. If you can’t get your hand tight against the wall, push with the other hand.

You can also lift your wrist a little from the wall and keep this position during 10 sec, the stretch is even more efficient. 

Sometimes you feel a pulling sensation only when you do this stretch, if so, continue to do the exercise as long as you have this feeling. 

If your hand is "normal", you don't feel a pulling sensation.



Pulling Contracture - A More Efficient Stretch


In case you have a callus like nodule under your ring finger and pulling sensation in your palm, you

can test this stretch, but only if your palm is still flexible and there isn’t yet a visible contracture in your palm.
Push your hand against a wall so that you can turn your wrist in right angle. 
Press with the other hand so that your knuckles and fingers don’t move.
Lift your wrist a little from the wall and keep this position during 10 sec. 
Repeat the exercise a few times and again during the day.


Some times you feel a pulling sensation only when you do a stretch, therefore it is important to continue stretching exercises, even though there aren’t any strange feelings in the normal use of the hand. After a pause, the pulling sensation may be much stronger, and then you need to exercise more often.

Pulling sensation in the fingers



In case you feel a pulling sensation in one or more fingers,  lift your wrist a little when you press the fingers against a hard surface with your other hand, and keep this position for at least 10 sec. 

Repeat three times and do the stretch several times per day. 

Stretching help the fingers to straighten and to bend better. 


The bending of the knuckles and the wrist can also be improved by stretching; and the feeling of a cramp can be removed. 
Regular stretching exercises helps to keep your hands and fingers elastic and flexible.
Stretching can be active or passive, performed with stretching exercises or with splints.

3. How to straighten the fingers with stretching


Place the hand on a table and press the palm gently with your other hand, until the entire palm and fingers touch the table. Hold for 10 seconds and relax, repeat three times.
Do the stretch several times per day. 
Any hard and straight surface is suitable. In case of bent PIP-joints, the best pot for the press is the first phalange.

Stretch against a firm surface stiffens the fingers, the counter movement is the bend/extend stretch, but do also other exercises. 

Use this stretch in the case of:
- Bent fingers, if they are still flexible
- Pulling sensation in the hand and fingers


Straightening Stretch - Dupuytren's Contracture


In case of the Dupuytren's contracture there may be need for several operations, and after some operations a finger may not be straight any more. 

After a recent operation, when the finger is still flexible, this stretch can be made to a bent finger using a wooden spoon as support. This way the finger is able to stretch a little, and an increased bending may be avoided.



Left hand in August 2010

4. Finger splints help to straighten bent fingers


In addition to stretching, finger splits may be needed for the straightening of the fingers. Sometimes, the best results are obtained by combining the both, at least in the case the fingers have already been bent for some time.
However, finger splints do not straighten stiffened fingers.

Hand in February 2012


Wear the splints at least half an hour at a time three, times a day.

Note: the use of finger splints stiffen the fingers, so that after their use, it is important to do the bend/extend stretch, as well as other hand-and finger exercises.

If the use of a finger splint begins to feel painful, try a different model or take a break and make different hand exercises.



Spring splints and ring splints

Finger splints with a spring 

Splints with Velcro fastening suit even crooked fingers. The correct length of the splint is important, if too long, it does lift the fingertip upward. Small sizes, suitable for little finger, can be difficult to find. The stretch of a spring may be quite strong; they cannot be used for long periods of time. Spring splints are usually not used simultaneously at adjacent fingers.

Ring splints 

If the fingers have enough flexibility, and are only slightly bent, ring splints are a good option. Ring splints exist in small sizes; they can be used in adjacent fingers, and under a glove.

Oval-8 Ring splint are made of plastic and a splint fits two sizes, depending from the side. Stretch the finger a little before putting the splint on; or use a cream to facilitate it. You may start with the bigger size, and after a while you can change the splint the other way. Ring splint can be adjusted with the help of health care professionals and special tools.

5. Stretches & finger splints help even stiffened fingers to bend 


If the deficiency in extension and flexion is the problem, the stretching is the first treatment method, if there is no physical trauma in the fingers.

Finger splints with a spring
Bend to fist
If the fingers do not bend well, they need both stretching straight and bend / extend stretch. 

After a wrist fracture and 7 weeks in plaster cast, my fingers didn't bend well. Finger splints with a spring helped my fingers to bend before the finger operation, however, they didn't  straighten my fingers anymore, because they were stiffened.

Start the stretching as soon as possible, otherwise the fingers may become so stiff, 
that they need an operation.

However, if the fingers are bent and stiffened, finger splints with a spring do not straighten them anymore. 

6. The first symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture

In February 2010, when my left wrist was still in plaster cast, I noticed that there was a pulling sensation in my little finger. When the cast was removed, the pulling sensation continued. Two months later the finger of my left hand were stiffened.


In September 2013,  I noticed in my right hand callus-like nodules under the ring and middle finger, and in the beginning they were tender to the touch. 
First contractions

After I carried some heavy stuff out, I noticed that I couldn't extend my right hand straight without extra effort, otherwise it stayed a little bent. My little finger had a tendency to be bent more forward than the other fingers, but the PIP-joint isn't bent, like was in my left hand in 2010. When I did stretching exercises for the hand, I felt pulling sensation specially in my little finger. 


The first symptoms of
Dupuytren's contracture
There was a period when I did ironing or vacuum cleaning, I had the feeling that I still had the device in my hand, even though I had stopped the ironing or cleaning. 
When I had this kind of feelings, I did some stretching exercises immediately, and it helped. During this period, which lasted few weeks, I avoided carrying heavy loads.


I searched in the internet for the early signs of Dupuytren's contracture and found that they were quite similar. Because the stretching exercises helped my left hand, I tested if I can get positive result with daily stretches, even though some web sites warn against them.


Operation or stretching exercises?

Left hand nine weeks after 
wrist operation,
March 2010

The hand on the left needed an operation, 6 months later.

The hand on the right needed stretching exercises and ring splints.
Left hand two weeks after
finger operation,
September 2010

However, they look almost identical in these pictures...

In the case of Dupuytren's contracture, the doctors are right, when they say, that splinting or stretching  are not recommended.

Splinting or stretching do not help when the hand is stiffened, like my hand was in August 2010, but in early stage stretching exercises can prevent from stiffening, and remove the feelings of tightness and cramps from the hand. 

Most doctors recommend only observation in the early stage. However, in some cases stiffening can progress rapidly, in 3 or 4 months, and then it's too late.

Left hand in August 2010
In addition to the stretching exercises, there are instructions how to remove stiffness from a wrist, how to remove stiffness from fingers and how to make a PE foam disc at home.

The stretching exercises are recommended specially in the case there are pulling sensations or feelings of tightness, cramps or pain in the hand, because they may indicate a tendency to bent fingers or other problems in the hand. 
Callus-like nodules under the ring and middle fingers may also be an early symptom of Dupuytren's contracture.

Start the stretching exercises as soon as possible, when you have noticed the feelings and the first symptoms of future problems, with observation the best rehabilitation time will be soon over, and when the hand or fingers are stiffened, an operation is needed.  

My left hand 4 years later, in 2014

Four years after the finger operation (September 2010) I still use the ring splint as night splint in my left pinkie.

I do regularly the bend / extend stretch, because it keeps the stiffness away from my hand.



My right hand one year later, in 2014

First there was a period during the summer 2013 when I did ironing or vacuum cleaning, I had the feeling that I still had the device in my hand, even though I had stopped the ironing or cleaning. 
When I had this kind of feelings, I did some stretching exercises immediately, and it helped. During this period, which lasted few weeks, I avoided carrying heavy loads.

Then I noticed two callus like nodules in my right hand in September 2013 and started the daily stretching exercises at the same time, with some exemptions.
After 6 months I had  still the nodules in my hand, and if I carried heavy things or did handiwork, they some times felt tender and I also felt a pulling sensation in my hand. Then, I stretched the hand more often.
However, the nodules were about the same size.

One ear later the nodules are still visible, but they look a little bit smaller.
There are no special sensations in the hand, even if I carry heavy loads. However, I stretch the palm from time to time, specially if I'm traveling.
This picture shows the situation in September 2014.


MAINTENANCE TRAINING - LEFT HAND

My left hand feels more or less stiff and the 3 fingers (little finger, ring finger and middle finger) tend to contract again.

When the fingers tend to contract again

I observe the early signs, if I can put a ring in my finger, but taking it away is difficult or if I start to feel pain when I use the ring splint, I need to do: 

The straightening stretch, and stretch the first phalange of the 3 fingers against a table for 10 sec, and repeat 3 times.
After the straightening stretch I do bend/extend stretch, hold for 10 seconds and repeat a few times. 
These stretching exercises maintain the flexibility of my hands and fingers, and help to keep the fingers straight.

When my hand feels stiff


I do bend/extend stretch, hold the stretch at least for 10 seconds and repeat a few times. 
I squeeze the PE foam disc. 
I do the both exercises, because they complement each other and take the stiffness away. 
In case these two stretches aren't enough, do also knuckles stretch with bent fingers (4), it reduces stiffness, specially, if you have stiffness in knuckles and PIP-joints.

Daily


I do the bend/extend stretch and maintain the stretch at least for 10 sec. I repeat this stretch several times per day.

In case I feel stiffness in my hand, I start the day by bending the fingers quickly 2 times, then I bend them properly, and hold for 20 seconds, then I extend the fingers straight. 
Thereafter I stretch the major knuckles against the mattress, and repeat, if needed.

I use the Oval-8 ring splint in my pinkie during the night. You can use ring splint only if your finger is flexible, if the finger is too stiff, it may cause pain.

I use warmer gloves than necessary, and fingerless woolen gloves during the night. 

When necessary


I do the stretch wide apart. 

Temporary problems can happen, if I have stopped exercising my hands or if they have been exposed to cold. Then there is no other help than exercise more for a few days, do the straightening stretch and the slow bend/extend stretch, and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. 

If I feel tightness in the hands I do also foam disc squeeze, and knuckles stretch.

I have a feeling that I will continue the stretching exercises the rest of my life; otherwise my hands may stiffen or my fingers will bend again. As a result, I can avoid additional hand operations.

MAINTENANCE TRAINING - RIGHT HAND


Pulling Contracture - A More Efficient Stretch

In case you have a callus like nodule under your ring finger and pulling sensation in your palm, you can test this stretch, but only if your palm is still flexible and there isn’t yet a visible contracture in your palm.
Push your hand against a wall so that you can turn your wrist in right angle. 

Press with the other hand so that your knuckles and fingers don’t move.

Lift your wrist a little from the wall and keep this position during 10 sec. 

Repeat the exercise a few times and again during the day.


Some times you feel a pulling sensation only when you do a stretch, therefore it is important to continue stretching exercises, even though there aren’t any strange feelings in the normal use of the hand. After a pause, the pulling sensation may be much stronger, and then you need to exercise more often.



III - The case of my left hand - bent and stiffened fingers


1. Injury and rehabilitation

My left wrist was broken in Christmas Eve 2009 and the diagnosis was a fracture of ulna and radial bone, S52.6. 

Since the fracture was splintery, it was operated in another hospital 11 days later.
One bone got a titanium plate and two K-spikes were placed in the second. The plaster cast was quite long, it went over the knuckles, and the given the exercise program was minimal. 

When, two and half weeks later the plaster cast was replaced the doctor noticed that the spikes had pressed the skin. I didn't like the new, lighter cast, made with a tight tubular bandage, two plaster slabs and elastic bandages, which felt like a too tight ribbing, and caused swelling and problems in fingers.  Altogether, the hand was in a cast during seven weeks.

In February 2010, when finally the cast and the spikes were removed, the little finger was bent. I asked the doctor whether the spikes were placed through the tendon, because I felt tension in the tendon of the little finger. The answer was: NO.

After the removal of the cast, physiotherapists gave me instruction for mobilization of the hand and fingers. There were some wrist stretches (see chapter 5.); and one ineffective stretching instruction for bent finger. Effective stretching instructions for fingers and finger splints were missing completely.

Hand in the evening,
March 2010
Hand in the morning,
March 2010
In March 2010, one month after the removal of the cast, I met the surgeon for the first time after the wrist surgical operation. Because of the wrong plaster cast and/or long time spent in plaster cast, or some internal injury, and the lack of proper rehabilitation, my hand looked like this, fingers extended.
The finger were slightly less bent in the morning, but the during the day the fingers crooked again, and I had a feeling of a cramp. The wrist was also stiffened after a long period in plaster cast.
I showed the pictures that I had taken the night before and the same morning to the surgeon and I got an appointment to occupational therapists the following week.
The surgeon didn't know stretching or finger splints and in her opinion the deficiency in bending was a bigger problem than deficiency in stretching straight. Therefore, I got first a wrist support, which kept the wrist in back position and straps, which were pulled over the fingers and knuckles, in order to make the knuckles and fingers to bend more.

Crooked fingers, May 2010
In April 2010, 2 months after the removal of the plaster cast, I got the first customized thermoplastic splint for the night, which was supposed to straighten the fingers. The splint was very stiff, and there were two straps for the fingers, one for the index and the middle finger and a second for the ring and the little finger. Since the straps ran the over the PIP joints, the splint straightened only the index and middle finger, where the PIP joints were alongside and less bent. The common strap for the ring and the little finger did not get the stretching done, because the PIP joints were out of align and the fingers were more hooked.

In May 2010 my fingers were bent and already so stiff, that when I pressed the hands together, the fingertips of my little, ring and middle finger turned upwards. I do not recommend this exercise, it can produce a permanent hyperextension in the fingers. This picture was taken in Djerba, Tunisia.

In June 2010, four months after the removal of the cast, I met the surgeon for a second time. In this meeting her opinion was, that only my little finger needs a surgical repair, not the two others which were also bent. In the statement she also confirmed, that the bending of the fingers was no caused by Dupuytren's contracture.
On the same day, I got a new splint, with separated straps for the ring and little finger. The splint was a perfect fit, but the material was thinner and more flexible than in the first one, and after a while, my fingers were even more bent.
Bend to fist
before operation

Spring splints
In July 2010, six months after the surgery I met a physiotherapist outside the hospital and she made a recommendation for finger splints with a spring, and with them the bend of the fingers improved; three weeks later I got the middle finger to touch the bottom of the palm, for the first time after the operation.

I used the splints for half an hour at a time and three times a day. Because the splints could not be kept in adjacent fingers, one stretching treatment took one hour. Since I got the spring splints six months after the surgery, they did not straighten the fingers anyway.

August 2010
In August 2010, six months after the removal of the plaster cast, my left hand looked like this, fingers extended as straight as possible.
August 2010
The PIP joints were more and more bended, and so stiff that it was impossible to stretch the fingers straighter.
The extension deficiency in the little finger was 70 degrees, in the ring finger 60 degrees and in the middle finger 40 degrees.
The knuckle of my little finger (pinkie) had "disappeared" and the PIP-joint was sore.

It was the time to change the doctor and the hospital (private clinic).

Finger and knuckles surgery:

In this surgery, in September 2010, the tendons of the three fingers and two knuckles were cleaned. I was very surprised, that I didn't need any painkillers after this operation. According to the surgeon, the extension deficiency would be maximum 20 degrees after the operation.

After the surgery, the hand was in plaster cast for one week and then started a new rehabilitation.
I met the physiotherapist and the occupational therapist immediately after the removal of the plaster cast, and got workout instructions and a customized thermoplastic splint for the night. PIP joints were still a little bent, from the old memory; I also experienced a feeling of a cramp in the hand.

Finger Surgery was very well done, and the biggest surprise was, that I didn’t need any painkillers after the operation.
However, the rehabilitation was still a problem: the splint for the night did not fit, even after two corrections. Also the proper stretching instructions were missing from the workout program. I continued to use my old spring splints, but the physiotherapist's opinion was that they were wrong size. There were no better size available in the clinic, and no ring splints either.

In December 2010, almost one year after the injury, I found the ring splints by change in a shop, and got from a person with a crooked finger the right stretching instructions (straightening stretch); two weeks later I could put a ring in my ring finger. The hospitals didn't have ring splints available, and didn't even know them.

Spring splints can be found in hospitals, but selection can be very small, so that the correct size may not be found.  If you know that splints are also available in shops, outside the hospital, you can try on different models and find the best suited.

Bend to fist 3 weeks
after operation
Rehabilitation is also a tool discipline and bad equipment does not give good result. Equally important are the correct instructions. I got the right instructions for the straightening of the fingers by accident, in a store, but not from the hospitals.
However, there are lots of things that can be done at home and which do not cost anything, or just a little.

Bent PIP joints need for rehabilitation: stretching, splints, hand exercises and massage, on a daily basis. Rehabilitation should also begin immediately, since if it starts too late, it does not produce expected results, and then the only solution is a new surgery. Even repeated surgeries do not help, if the correct rehabilitation is missing, and the result can be worse. I'm convinced that with the right stretching instructions after the removal of the plaster cast, the finger operation could have been avoided.

More information:

2. Hand rehabilitation schedule was the following

Hand rehab is an endurance discipline, it can take a long time, specially when you get older. I was 64 years old when I broke my wrist.
Since the fracture was splintery, it was operated 11 days later, the 5th january 2010.
In February 2010, the cast and the K-spikes were removed.
In August 2010, six months after the removal of the plaster cast, the PIP joints were more and more bended, and so stiff that it was impossible to stretch the fingers straight or bend them to fist.
In September 2010, the tendons of the three fingers and two knuckles were cleaned in another operation.

Wrist

After 7 weeks in plaster cast, my wrist was stiff. I got mobilization exercises from the physiotherapist but the stiffness disappeared slowly. I was more worried about my fingers.

In May 2010, three and half months after the plaster cast was taken away, I went for one week in a spa in Djerba / Tunisia.  Because I had complications after the operation, I got every day half an hour personal physiotherapy in warm seawater pool.
The physiotherapy was very good, with the help of water gymnastic, the flexibility of my wrist increased much more in one week than with mobilization exercises during the three preceding month.
Little finger and knuckle position
before finger operation
After my return home, I continued for a while swimming and water gymnastic in a warm water pool in Helsinki, and therefore I purchased some tools, for ex HipperSmile.

Knuckles

I got the first flexion straps in March 2010, but they were uncomfortable to use and I didn’t like them.
I got an other splint in August 2010, this time with flexion loops (the picture), but because I got it too late, it wasn't any help.

After the finger surgery in September 2010, I started to use a splint for the knuckles again. It was quite uncomfortable; some loops were too small and thus laborious to put in the fingers. The stretch of the loops was too strong, and I had to take the splint away from the hand after a 15-minute use.

Approximately one month after the finger surgery, I started stretching the knuckles with HipperSmile and a PE foam disc, and 6 months after the finger surgery the knuckles bent well.

Later, I found the right way to stretch knuckles against without any splint, and I continue to do the stretching in order to maintain the result.
Little finger knuckle 6 months 
after finger operation


Little finger knuckle 3 weeks
after finger operation







Incomplete extension of the fingers 

In February 2010, when the plaster cast was taken away, the little finger was crooked.
Hand in August 2010
In August 2010, already three fingers were crooked: middle finger, ring finger and little finger, they were also so stiff, that an operation was the only possibility. Fingers were operated in September 2010.

In November 2010, after I had modified the customized thermoplastic splint, the middle finger straightened so that I could put a ring in it.
The ring and little finger were more severe cases. Two months after the operation, they started to look crooked again.

In December 2010, when the finger operation was 10 weeks away, I found ring splints in a shop and I got the right stretching instructions from a person with a bent finger, and a couple of weeks later I got a ring to go in the ring finger. I started with size No 9 in the ring finger, and size No 7 in the little finger.

In January 2011, the swelling had decreased so much that I had to change splints to a smaller size, No. 8 to ring finger and No. 6 to little finger, and I used them also during the night.
I used the splints for about 6 months, and the ring finger stabilized after some months.
Then I stopped the use of ring splints, even thought I didn't get my pinkie completely straight and the thickened PIP joint accentuated it.

The result wasn't permanent, in December 2011, about 6 months after I stopped the use of the ring splint, the little finger began to look more bent again, so I started to use the ring splint again.

In January 2012, I noticed that the PIP joint had gradually become thinner and my little finger could accommodate a smaller size, No. 5, which also fitted better, without customization.

I have already seen results, because now I have kept the ring splint during the night, and done the straightening stretch several times during the day, stretching the fingers between knuckles and PIP-joints, instead of stretching the PIP-joint. This seem to be a good combination.

I still use the ring splint No 5 every day, as night splint, and this way I can maintain the result.

Stiffness and incomplete bending of the fingers

Fingers bent, September 2010
Through trial and error I found the right way to bend and extend my fingers with bend/extend stretching, and the bending began to improve.
Fingers bent, February 2012

10 months after finger surgery fingers bended and extended well, and I could touch the lines of the palm with fingertips.

In my case, these instructions worked so well that the finger surgery doctor was surprised in the annual inspection of the hand in September 2011.

Stiffness in the hand is lost very slowly; it can take up to two years.

Swelling and thickening of joints

After the wrist operation, the back of my hand was swollen, but most of the swelling decreased after about four months.

The PIP-joints thickened in the finger surgery, especially the PIP joint of the little finger, which thinned slowly, taking 15 months. 
In the ring and middle finger the PIP-joints returned to the normal size after one year.


3. Pain

I didn't have much pain in my hand, but I used painkillers after the wrist operation. After the finger operation I didn't take them, because I didn't feel any pain.

Acupuncture can help in case of pain, but if there are no results during the 5 first sessions, there is no reason to continue it.

More information concerning pain relieving: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/menus/treatment.cfm

4. Summary of the rehabilitation 

Wrong plaster cast, too tight tubular bandage and wrong rehabilitation, as well as too late started use of the splints or  wrong splints,  and too late started or wrong stretching may create entirely new, different problems.

Straightening of the fingers is easiest during the first few weeks, and after 4 months it is very difficult to achieve any results, if the fingers are stiffened. However, a skillful physiotherapist will be able to show short-term results.
If you feel that your fingers are completely stiff, it's time to go see (another) doctor.

Rehabilitation is, a know-how, an equipment and an endurance discipline, this rehabilitation has gone for more than two years. With right instructions for stretching and right splints, the rehabilitation could have been considerably faster. You may know that you need splints and stretching, but if the know how is missing, things can go wrong.

Hits:
  • If I had not found a shop (Health Care shop, Mannerheimintie 69, 00250 Helsinki) ring splints and received from a person with a crooked finger better stretching instructions (straightening stretch), the ring and little finger would have stayed more crooked.
Misses:
  • Both hospitals missed the best rehabilitation time. In the first hospital they first observed the situation, and I got the first splint 6 weeks after the plaster cast was removed, and this splint was supposed to bend my fingers even more. The first splint for the straightening of the fingers was made 2 weeks later, but it didn't work well. After the finger operation, I got the first splint immediately after the removal of the plaster cast, but the splint wasn't good and the best rehabilitation time was used for reparations, without result.
  • Both hospitals missed the knowledge about splints. Hospitals didn't know the ring splints at all, and many of the splints I got, were unsuitable for the case, or with bad ergonomics.
  • Both hospitals missed the stretching instructions for fingers. They had correct instructions only for the wrist. The instructions I got for the fingers gave only temporary results and delayed the rehab.
In my experience, the most important things in the rehabilitation of the hand are:

1. The fastest possible start


The best results are obtained during the first weeks. The later the treatment is started, the more time will be needed to get results, and it is less certain to get good results.

2. Stretching


Proper and regular stretching keeps the fingers and knuckles flexible, straighten the fingers, and help also stiff fingers to bend more. This happens only when the stretching is done the right way and early enough, and in this case the first results should be visible in two weeks. 
If not, the instructions may be incorrect or the stretching exercises are done too late, when the hand or fingers are already stiffened.

You may get from hospitals stretching instructions for bent fingers giving only short-term results. In that case, the only long term result can be a new surgery.

3. Splints


In addition to stretching, splints, which help to keep the right stretch for longer periods, may be needed. The splint should be appropriate for the case, well fitting and ergonomic. Improper splint or bad fit do not give good results.

4. Mobilization exercises


To exercise the hand with versatile but slowly made movements is also important. Too fast, or one-sided movements, can lead to entirely new problems in the case of a stiff hand or bent fingers.

5. Maintenance training

Daily: 
I use the ring splint in my pinkie during the night, with fingerless woolen gloves
I start the day by bending the fingers properly, and keeping them bent for 20 seconds, then I extend the fingers straight.
Thereafter I stretch knuckles against the mattress.
I also do strength training using 2 kg weights, and have noticed positive results. It reduces the stiffness.

Regularly:
I do the straightening stretch, and stretch the first phalange of the fingers against a table for 10 sec, especially the little finger.
I do bend / extend stretching and keep both stretching for 10 sec.
These stretching maintain the flexibility of the hand and fingers, and keep the fingers straight.

When necessary:
I squeeze the foam disc to keep the stiffness away.
I do stretching wide apart.
I do scar massage to the scar of the knuckles.

There can be backtracking, if you have stopped to exercise your hand or if it has been exposed to cold. Then there is no help other than exercise more for a few days, do the slow bend / extend stretching, and keep the stretching for 10 seconds. Do also squeezing, if you feel tightness in the hand.
The heating of the hand and massage of the fingers can relax your hand.
Stretching of the knuckles may also help.

I have a feeling, that I shall continue the stretching program the rest of my life, otherwise my hand may stiffen again. And I know, that it will help.


6. Situation 4 years later, in 2014

 Four years after the finger operation (September 2010) I still use the ring splint as night splint in my left pinkie.

I do regularly the bend / extend stretch, because it keeps the stiffness away from my hand.

My middle finger tend to bend a little again, but because it is still flexible, I do straightening stretch from time to time.

In case you have questions or comments ( in English or in French), you can send also an email: lpuranen(at)elisanet.fi


IV - The case of my right hand - Dupuytren's contracture


1. Injury and rehabilitation


In mid February 2013 I stumbled on a street and the radius of my right hand broke, but not the ulna. For first-aid, I went to the same hospital where my fingers were operated in 2010. 

The first plaster cast didn’t fit very well, my fingers tended to stay bent and if I wanted to extend them, I needed to help with the other hand.

The radius was fragmented and it was operated 9 days later, and the plaster cast was taken away 15 days later. This time I didn’t get a new cast; instead I got a wrist support I could take away when I exercised the hand. 

After the first week I used it only during the night and when I went out. Because the first model caused pain in my hand, I changed the wrist support after one week. 

I used the wrist support until mid April 2013, when I met the hand surgeon for the third time and had a X-ray.

The rehabilitation schedule was the following:


Wrist

This time my wrist was much less stiff and two months after the operation, the flexibility was good, because I could start the mobilization earlier and exercised also in a swimming pool.

In mid May 2013 the fingers bent slightly

However, I had some problems with my fingers and the major knuckles:

Fingers

When I used the wrist support, I felt sometimes cramps or pulling sensation in my right hand and my fingers started to bend slightly, but they straightened with straightening stretch and bend/extend stretch, in 2 months. I didn’t use any finger splints.

Major knuckles

Until November 2013 my right hand didn’t tolerate a strong handshake, but I have a noticed that the PE foam disc squeeze helped. 

Stiffness

The morning stiffness diminished, when I made myself a new, more rigid polyethylene foam disc and started to use fingerless woolen gloves at night. 

Swelling

In September 2013, 6 months after the operation, the fingers started to return to normal size.


First symptoms of Dupuytren's contracture


The first symptoms of
Dupuytren's contracture
In September 2013 I noticed in my right hand  callus-like nodules under the ring and middle finger, and in the beginning they were tender to the touch. 

After I carried some heavy stuff out, I noticed that I couldn't extend my right hand straight without extra effort, otherwise it stayed a little bent. My little finger had a tendency to be bent more forward than the other fingers, but the PIP-joint isn't bent, like was in my left hand in 2010. When I did stretching exercises for the hand, I felt pulling sensation specially in my little finger. 


First contractions
There was a period when I did ironing or vacuum cleaning, I had the feeling that I still had the device in my hand, even though I had stopped the ironing or cleaning. 
When I had this kind of feelings, I did some stretching exercises immediately, and it helped. During this period, which lasted few weeks, I avoided carrying heavy loads.


My right hand Dec 2013
I searched in the internet for the early signs of Dupuytren's contracture and found that they were quite similar. Because the stretching exercises helped my left hand, I tested if I can get positive result with daily stretches, even though some web sites warn against them. The problems of my right hand were somewhat different, than in left hand, but I believe that in both cases the reason was the disposition to Dupuytren's contracture in the family, activated with physical trauma and age.

In December 2013, I can see that the daily stretching exercises have had a positive effect. I could see the first results in two weeks, because the stretching exercises were suitable to my hand,  If not, the exercises give only temporary results. The callus-like nodules stayed, but I'm able to extend the fingers straight.

When the hand or fingers are too contracted or stiffened, the stretching exercises doesn't help anymore.

When I had problems with the bent fingers of my left hand, I noticed that the rehabilitation and stretching exercises should start as soon as possible, because my fingers stiffened in three months and then they had to be operated. 

After the operation fingers started to bend again, but two moths later I found the right stretching instruction for straightening, early enough to give results. Now my left hand look's like this, the picture is taken in September 2013.

Now I need to exercise both hands regularly.


PALM STRETCH AGAINST A WALL

Pull the palm against a wall and press your hand against it. Then turn the arm to more upright position so that the angle of the wrist is bigger; hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.

In case you have a warm wall surface, for ex. an internal hot water pipe in your bathroom, use this area for the stretch, it feels better. This is a good stretch in case of the "calluses" in the hand.

The better you get your hand against the wall and the bigger angle you get in your wrist, the better the stretch. 
If you can’t get your hand tight against the wall, push with the other hand.

PULLING CONTRACTURE - A MORE EFFICIENT STRETCH

In case you have a callus like nodule under your ring finger and pulling sensation in your palm, you can test this stretch, but only if your palm is still flexible and there isn’t yet a visible contracture in your palm.

Push your hand against a wall so that you can turn your wrist in right angle. 
Press with the other hand so that your knuckles and fingers don’t move.
Lift your wrist a little from the wall and keep this position during 10 sec. 
Repeat the exercise a few times and again during the day.

Some times you feel a pulling sensation only when you do a stretch, therefore it is important to continue stretching exercises, even though there aren’t any strange feelings in the normal use of the hand. 
After a pause, the pulling sensation may be much stronger, and then you need to exercise more often.

2. The situation one year later

First there was a period during the summer 2013 when I did ironing or vacuum cleaning, I had the feeling that I still had the device in my hand, even though I had stopped the ironing or cleaning. 
When I had this kind of feelings, I did some stretching exercises immediately, and it helped. During this period, which lasted few weeks, I avoided carrying heavy loads.

Then I noticed two callus like nodules in my right hand in September 2013 and started the daily stretching exercises at the same time, with some exemptions.
After 6 months I had  still the nodules in my hand, and if I carried heavy things or did handiwork, they some times felt tender and I also felt a pulling sensation in my hand. Then, I stretched the hand more often.
However, the nodules were about the same size.

One ear later the nodules are still visible, but they look a little bit smaller.
There are no special sensations in the hand, even if I carry heavy loads. However, I stretch the palm from time to time, specially if I'm traveling.
This picture shows the situation in September 2014.


3. The worst case of of Dupuytren's contracture in the family

Left hand
Right hand
All orthopedic links recommend operation, and if nothing else is done, there may be need for several operations. 

Among the siblings of my mother, three persons had this kind of problem.  Among my cousins, at least four persons have this problem also. 

On of them has had together 11 hand operations. He didn't get any instructions for stretching but used splints made by hospitals.

Straightening Stretch - Dupuytren's Contracture


In case of the Dupuytren's contracture there may be need for several operations, and after some operations a finger may not be straight any more. 

After a recent operation, when the finger is still flexible, this stretch can be made to a bent finger using a wooden spoon as support. This way the finger is able to stretch a little, and an increased bending may be avoided.


4. Orthopedic links, Dupuytren's contracture, vitamin D

Information on orthopaedic conditions and treatments, injury prevention, wellness and exercise, and more. Without advertisement.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/menus/hand.cfm
Information about fractures, injuries, pain relieving and different hand problems: Arthritis of the Thumb, Boutonnière Deformity, Dupuytren's Contracture, Trigger Finger; ...

Orthogate and the Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology (I.S.O.S.T) http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/hand/
Patient Education Guides about hand pain and problems, and anatomy.

Orthogate website is certified by the The Health on the Net Foundation http://www.hon.ch/

Dupuytren's contracture: 
Osteoporosis risk factors

There are many opinions concerning the treatment of a Dupuytren's contracture before operation, but they do not mention stretching

Splinting does not prevent increased bend in the finger. Forceful stretching of the contracted finger will not help either, and may speed the progression of contracture.

For a severe problem, a therapist may be able to make a custom splint or brace to stretch the fingers out a little more straight. If surgery can't be done, this may help regain some movement of the fingers, but requires using the splint every day.

Splinting and hand therapy are often required after surgery.

Splinting or stretching and local steroid injections are not recommended.

Although injury and excessive hand use are not believed to cause Dupuytren’s, higher rates of Dupuytren’s disease have been observed in people with hand trauma.

800 IU = 20 mikrog vitamin D
Vitamin D supplement is best absorbed when you take it with food containing fat.


© Copyright Leena Puranen 2012 - 2014