Information for Patients
Connective Tissue Disorders
Your connective tissue supports many different parts of your body, such as your skin, eyes, and heart. It is like a "cellular glue" that gives your body parts their shape and helps keep them strong. It also helps some of your tissues do their work. It is made of many kinds of proteins. Cartilage and fat are types of connective tissue.
Over 200 disorders that impact connective tissue. There are different types:
- Genetic disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta
- Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and scleroderma
- Cancers, like some types of soft tissue sarcoma
Each disorder has its own symptoms and needs different treatment.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Finger Injuries and Disorders
You use your fingers and thumbs to do everything from grasping objects to playing musical instruments to typing. When there is something wrong with them, it can make life difficult. Common problems include
- Injuries that result in fractures, ruptured ligaments and dislocations
- Osteoarthritis - wear-and-tear arthritis. It can also cause deformity.
- Tendinitis - irritation of the tendons
- Dupuytren's contracture - a hereditary thickening of the tough tissue that lies just below the skin of your palm. It causes the fingers to stiffen and bend.
- Trigger finger - an irritation of the sheath that surrounds the flexor tendons. It can cause the tendon to catch and release like a trigger.
Dupuytren contracture Dupuytren contracture is characterized by a deformity of the hand in which the joints of one or more fingers cannot be fully straightened (extended); their mobility is limited to a range of bent (flexed) positions. The condition is a disorder of connective tissue, which supports the body's muscles, joints, organs, and skin and provides strength and flexibility to structures throughout the body. In particular, Dupuytren contracture results from shortening and thickening of connective tissues in the hand, including fat and bands of fibrous tissue called fascia; the skin is also involved.In men, Dupuytren contracture most often occurs after age 50. In women, it tends to appear later and be less severe. However, Dupuytren contracture can occur at any time of life, including childhood. The disorder can make it more difficult or impossible for affected individuals to perform manual tasks such as preparing food, writing, or playing musical instruments.Dupuytren contracture often first occurs in only one hand, affecting the right hand twice as often as the left. About 80 percent of affected individuals eventually develop features of the condition in both hands.Dupuytren contracture typically first appears as one or more small hard nodules that can be seen and felt under the skin of the palm. In some affected individuals the nodules remain the only sign of the disorder, and occasionally even go away without treatment, but in most cases the condition gradually gets worse. Over months or years, tight bands of tissue called cords develop. These cords gradually draw the affected fingers downward so that they curl toward the palm. As the condition worsens, it becomes difficult or impossible to extend the affected fingers. The fourth (ring) finger is most often involved, followed by the fifth (little), third (middle), and second (index) fingers. Occasionally the thumb is involved. The condition is also known as Dupuytren disease, and "Dupuytren contracture" most accurately refers to later stages when finger mobility is affected; however, the term is also commonly used as a general name for the condition.About one-quarter of people with Dupuytren contracture experience uncomfortable inflammation or sensations of tenderness, burning, or itching in the affected hand. They may also feel pressure or tension, especially when attempting to straighten affected joints.People with Dupuytren contracture are at increased risk of developing other disorders in which similar connective tissue abnormalities affect other parts of the body. These include Garrod pads, which are nodules that develop on the knuckles; Ledderhose disease, also called plantar fibromatosis, which affects the feet; scar tissue in the shoulder that causes pain and stiffness (adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder); and, in males, Peyronie disease, which causes abnormal curvature of the penis.