Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


I'm 63-years-old and have had diabetes for about 10 years. It's been pretty well controlled but I'm starting to notice problems with my hands. My fingers are stiff and don't move as well as they used to and sometimes one of my fingers seems to get stuck. I have to pull it to get it straight. Is this from my diabetes or something else?


You may be experiencing a problem called trigger finger. Trigger finger (and trigger thumb) are conditions affecting the movement of the tendons as they bend the fingers or thumb toward the palm of the hand. This movement is called flexion. This problem is common in folks who have been involved in light-to-heavy manual labor. Other problems affecting the hand such as diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, or Dupuytren's disease often occur in patients with trigger finger. Your problem also sounds suspiciously like Dupuytren's. Dupuytren's first shows up as a thick nodule (knob) or a short cord in the palm of the hand, just below the ring finger. More nodules form, and the tissues thicken and shorten until the finger cannot be fully straightened. Dupuytren's contracture usually affects only the ring and little finger. The contracture spreads to the joints of the finger, which can become permanently immobilized (unable to move). For individuals with diabetes, the abnormal metabolism of glucose can cause a variety of soft tissue problems, especially affecting the hands. See your primary care physician or an orthopedic surgeon to find out for sure what's going on. Early diagnosis and treatment is often the best way to get results and avoid developing a chronic problem. K. Drossos, MD, et al. Correlations Between Clinical Presentations of Adult Trigger Digits and Histologic Aspects of the A1 Pulley. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. October 2009. Vol. 34-A. No. 8. Pp. 1429-1435.

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