In Good Hands! Surgical Intervention Restores Function
Fifty-year-old Lonnie Parham suffers from Dupuytren's disease, in which tissues in the hand thicken and shorten, causing the fingers to contract. He has suffered with it since 1978. While the condition isn't painful, it's debilitating because sufferers have little or no use of their hands.
"Before surgery, my life was limited, and I had to lift things with my hand like a claw," Lonnie says.
The condition made it impossible for him to work as a mechanic. Dupuytren's disease typically affects those of Northern European descent, and this hereditary disease is usually seen in the ring finger and sometimes the ankle. Lonnie's case was advanced, drawing his middle finger into the palm of his hand.
In May, an orthopedic surgeon with Franciscan Medical Group's Harbor Orthopedic Clinic in Gig Harbor operated on Lonnie's right hand, and then on his left in July. The surgeon performed a relief cut (called 'z-plasties' to close skin defects by rotating skin to new locations) on the palm, and after each surgery, Lonnie was able to open his hand.
Since the genetic condition tends to recur, Lonnie may need additional surgery. But through it all, his experience with Franciscan has been exemplary. "Within about two-and-a-half hours, I was out of surgery and able to go home that night," Lonnie recalls.