Conservative Treatment for Dupuytren's Disease

Image Credit - By Frank C. Müller, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Image Credit - By Frank C. Müller, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Massage therapy combined with active and passive stretching has been proposed as a potential adjunctive treatment for attenuating Dupuytren's disease (DD) progression and recurrence. Dupuytren's disease is a progressive disorder of the hand that eventually can cause contractures of the affected fingers. The progression of the disease is a complicated process, involving a cascade of molecular and cellular events, in which the cytokine Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) plays a fundamental role (Tripoli et al. 2016).

Studies have demonstrated that non-operative treatments such as massage therapy do not cure the condition permanently, but it may affect progression (Larocerie-Salgado et al. 2012 , Christie et al. 2012). These observations support the investigation of massage therapy as an adjunctive treatment strategy for Dupuytren's disease. This post is a brief look at related research, ideally it will serve as a starting point - providing massage therapists and researchers some points of considerations.

“The results achieved in our patients demonstrate that in the setting of early onset contracture of the PIPJ [proximal interphalangeal joint] due to DD, a relatively simple splinting regimen, combined with stretching exercises and massage to contracted tissue, can stabilize the progression of contracture and in some cases ameliorate the degree of deformity”

— Larocerie-Salgado et al. 2012

Massage Therapy - The Science is Emerging
Based on available evidence the mechanisms by which massage therapy interrupts the sequelae of pathological healing is most likely not in a single unified response, but as a collection of interconnected adaptive responses within the nervous system and soft tissue structures. 

Attenuating Tissue Levels of TGF-β1
As a therapeutic intervention massage therapy has the potential to attenuate TGF-β1 induced fibroblast to myofibroblast transformation. Recent studies have looked at the effect of modeled massage therapy and mechanical stretching on tissue levels of TGF-β1 (Bouffard et al. 2008Bove et al. 2016). In these studies it was demonstrated that mechanical stretching has the potential to attenuate tissue levels of TGF-β1 and the development of fibrosis.

This is potentially impactful in the treatment of DD because TGF-β1 plays a key role in tissue remodeling and fibrosis (Tripoli et al. 2016).

TGF-Β1 PLAYS A ROLE IN TISSUE REMODELING, AS A THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION MASSAGE THERAPY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO ATTENUATE TGF-Β1 INDUCED FIBROBLAST TO MYOFIBROBLAST TRANSFORMATION ATTRIBUTION

TGF-Β1 PLAYS A ROLE IN TISSUE REMODELING, AS A THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION MASSAGE THERAPY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO ATTENUATE TGF-Β1 INDUCED FIBROBLAST TO MYOFIBROBLAST TRANSFORMATION

ATTRIBUTION

Attenuating Tissue Levels of TNF-α
Researchers have also described the pathogenic role that tumour necrosis factor (TNF) plays during the course of Dupuytren disease (Verjee et al. 2013Kalliolias et al. 2016). High levels of TNF contribute to the contractile activity of myofibroblasts, which drives disease development, in Dupuytren's patients.

A study looking at the use of massage for exercise induced muscle damage (Crane et al. 2012) indicates that massage attenuates the production of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Attenuating tissue levels of TNF-α with massage may play a role in disease development by reducing the contractile activity of myofibroblasts.

Impacting Inflammation
Persistent inflammation has the potential to interfere with the remodeling of tissue (Rand et al. 2016). There has been modeled experiments to demonstrate the the impact of stretching on inflammation-regulation mechanisms within connective tissue (Berrueta et al. 2016). Another study suggest that the application of massage induces a phenotype change, prompting the transition of M1 macrophages into the M2 macrophages (Waters-Banker et al. 2014).

Neurophysiological Responses
Other research papers have looked at the neurophysiological mechanisms elicited by massage therapy treatments (Bishop et al. 2015Vigotsky et al. 2015). Physiological, psychological, and sociological factors interplay in a complex manner, there are a number of possible ways that massage treatments may trigger neuroimmune responses at both the peripheral and central levels.

Massage therapy as a adjunctive treatment of Dupuytren's disease
Dupuytren's disease is a topic that I follow closely as I have seen second hand the long term effects of this progressive disorder. If these studies are clinically translatable, prophylactic massage treatments may inhibit inflammatory processes and affect the development of fibrosis by mediating differential cytokine production. Consequently this may stabilize the progression of contractures and in some cases ameliorate the degree of deformity. 

Massage therapy is simple to carry out, economical, has very few side effects, the next step for researchers is to look into what sort of dosage and duration would be needed to optimize the effects of this non-invasive approach. As an added note I will emphasize that therapists should be familiar with the condition and cross frictioning need not be vigorous and stretching should be a gentle exploration of ROM.


More to Explore

Ball, C., Izadi, D., Verjee, L.S., Chan, J., Nanchahal, J. (2016). Systematic review of non-surgical treatments for early dupuytren's disease. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27526686

Berrueta, L., Muskaj, I., Olenich, S., Butler, T., Badger, G. J., Colas, R. A., . . . Langevin, H. M. (2016). Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue. Journal of Cellular Physiology.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26588184

Bishop, M. D., Torres-Cueco, R., Gay, C. W., Lluch-Girbés, E., Beneciuk, J. M., & Bialosky, J. E. (2015). What effect can manual therapy have on a patient's pain experience? Pain Management.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26401979

Bochaton-Piallat, M., Gabbiani, G., & Hinz, B. (2016). The myofibroblast in wound healing and fibrosis: Answered and unanswered questions. F1000Research. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27158462

Bove, G., Harris, M., Zhao, H., & Barbe, M. (2016). Manual therapy as an effective treatment for fibrosis in a rat model of upper extremity overuse injury. Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26810536

Brauns, A., Van Nuffel, M., De Smet, L., Degreef, I. (2017). A clinical trial of tension and compression orthoses for Dupuytren contractures. J Hand Ther.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28236563

Chaitow, L. (2017).  What's in a name: Myofascial Release or Myofascial Induction? J Bodyw Mov Ther.
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27282924

Christie, W.S., Puhl, A.A., Lucaciu, O.C. (2012). Cross-frictional therapy and stretching for the treatment of palmar adhesions due to Dupuytren's contracture: a prospective case study. Man Ther.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22123331

Crane, J., Ogborn, D., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J., & Tarnopolsky, M. (2012). Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.Science Translational Medicine.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301554

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28801950

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20537576

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22678963

Huisstede, B.M., Gladdines S, Randsdorp MS, Koes BW. (2017). Effectiveness of conservative, surgical, and post-surgical interventions for Trigger finger, Dupuytren's disease, and De Quervain's disease. A systematic review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28860097

Karkampouna, S., Kreulen, M., Obdeijn, M.C., Kloen, P., ... Kruithof-de Julio, M. (2016). Connective Tissue Degeneration: Mechanisms of Palmar Fascia Degeneration (Dupuytren's Disease). Curr Mol Biol Rep. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27617187

Kay, A.D., Husbands-Beasley, J., Blazevich, A.J. (2015). Effects of Contract-Relax, Static Stretching, and Isometric Contractions on Muscle-Tendon Mechanics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25668401

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Kwan, P.O., Tredget, E.E. (2017). Biological Principles of Scar and Contracture. Hand Clin.
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Larocerie-Salgado, J., Davidson, J. (2012). Nonoperative treatment of PIPJ flexion contractures associated with Dupuytren's disease. J Hand Surg Eur.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21965179

Laumonier, T., & Menetrey, J. (2016). Muscle injuries and strategies for improving their repair. Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics. (OPEN ACCESS)
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Liu, W., O'Gorman, D.B., Gan, B.S. (2013). Operative trends and physician treatment costs associated with Dupuytren's disease in Canada. Can J Plast Surg.  (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24497764

Miller, B.F., Hamilton, K.L., ... Butterfield, T.A., Dupont-Versteegden, E.E. (2017). Enhanced skeletal muscle regrowth and remodelling in massaged and contralateral non-massaged hind limb. J Physiol.
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Verhoekx, J.S., Mudera, V., Walbeehm, E.T., Hovius, S.E. (2013). Adipose-derived stem cells inhibit the contractile myofibroblast in Dupuytren's disease. Plast Reconstr Surg.
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