Treating a hand disease the no surgery option

FRESNO, Calif.

When Patrick Bergeron puts his hands to work, he can build almost anything, his house and even an airplane he's got back in the garage.

"I've made a living using my hands my whole life," Patrick said.

But for 20 years, there were things his hands couldn't do, like picking up a jar.

"I'd have to pick it up with three fingers," Patrick said.

Or reaching in to get his keys.

"I couldn't get them in, couldn't get them in my pocket," Patrick said.

Patrick had Dupuytren's contracture, a build up of collagen that forms thick bands, pulling in the third and fourth fingers on each hand. Straightening the fingers used to mean invasive surgery and months of rehab. But doctor Eric George introduced Patrick to a new option.

On day one Dr. George injects an enzyme called xiaflex at three points to dissolve the tough band in his finger.

"That enzyme over a 25-hour period will basically erode or help to deteriorate this band," Eric R. George, M.D., a hand surgeon at Hand Surgical Associates, explained.

24 hours later, some local anesthetic and a little manipulating to separate the tissue and thenone big pop has Patrick able to straighten her fingers for the first time in 20 years. Now, after having all his fingers straightened, Patrick's got a lot more projects on his list and a lot less to worry about. A handy guy whose hands won't be a problem anymore.

Dupuytren's contracture is more common in men than women, particularly in those of northern European descent. Not all patients suffer symptoms severe enough to require medical intervention. The new enzyme treatment is FDA approved, but it isn't pain free. The shots and the follow up fix may cause discomfort. But unlike the surgical approach, once the enzyme fixes the problem, studies have shown it doesn't come back. The enzyme procedure generally is covered by insurance.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Craig Henry, Practice Administrator
Hand Surgical Associates
Metairie, LA

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