Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

I love to play the guitar but I think it's causing my fingers to get stuck in a bent position. Right now, I can't straighten the ring or pinkie finger of my left hand. Is this a common problem among guitar players?

Answer:

A healthy, normal individual should have no problem playing the guitar for long periods of time without affecting the position of the fingers. The inability to straighten the last two fingers may be a sign of something else going on. The most common cause of this problem is called Dupuytren disease. Dupuytren's contracture is a fairly common disorder of the fingers. The condition usually 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. One or both hands can be affected. Although the exact cause is unknown, it occurs most often in middle-aged, white men. It is genetic in nature, meaning it runs in families. Dupuytren disease is seven times more common in men than women. It is more common in men of Scandinavian, Irish, or Eastern European ancestry. The disorder may occur suddenly. More often, it progresses slowly over a period of years. The disease usually doesn't cause symptoms until after the age of 40. There are some other known risk factors for this disease. These include diabetes, alcohol abuse, and tobacco use. Trauma from injury or vibration during manual labor can also increase the chances of developing Dupuytrens. The natural course of the disease is unpredictable. Some people have a mild case that doesn't cause problems. Others progress to severe contracture preventing proper use of the hand. The natural course of the disease is unpredictable. Some people have a mild case that doesn't cause problems. Others progress to severe contracture preventing proper use of the hand. Although your symptoms sound like Dupuytren disease, it could be something else. It's best to see an orthopedic surgeon and get a diagnosis first before assuming you have this particular problem. Ryan J. Caufield, and Scott G. Edwards, MD. Dupuytren Disease: An Update on Recent Literature. In Cuurent Orthopaedic Practice. September/October 2008. Vol. 19. No. 5. Pp. 499-502.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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