Dupuytren’s Contracture: The Viking’s Disease

One of the stressful things about receiving a medical diagnosis is when doctors use a seemingly foreign language. Suddenly, brain freeze becomes sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. How about hearing the term Dupuytren’s contracture?

It’s frustrating enough when you or a loved one doesn’t feel well. Aiming to simplify things for patients and caregivers, below is an overview of Dupuytren’s contracture.

What is Dupuytren’s Contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a hand deformity. It happens very gradually as soft tissue under the skin starts knotting. As a result, the person’s fingers look like they’re being pulled inward. The most affected fingers are usually the ring finger, middle finger, and pinkie. While the index may be affected as well, the disease rarely reaches the thumbs. And while some people can suffer from the condition in both hands, it usually affects one hand more significantly than the other.

When the contracture is severe, it substantially limits a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene, grasping items, and working with their hands.

Why is Dupuytren’s Contracture Called Viking Disease?

Dupuytren’s contracture is known by other names including Viking’s Disease and Baron Dupuytren’s Disease. The first nickname comes from the belief that the condition originated among the Vikings (inhabitants in Scandinavian countries: Denmark, Norway, and Sweden). Lore has it that they spread it throughout northern Europe.

The first person to operate on a patient with this condition was Dr. Guillaume Dupuytren, from France. He was considered one of the most accomplished surgeons in Europe, and after writing and publishing a detailed description of the condition, Viking’s Disease was named after him.

Dupuytren’s Contracture Signs and Symptoms

Since the condition develops over the year, it might take a while for the patient to notice there’s something wrong with their hand.

Typically, the most common signs and symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture include:

  • The skin on the palm of the affected hand starts feeling thicker
  • Dimples on the skin
  • Inability to straighten fingers
  • Painless cords that can be felt through the skin
  • Hard bumps on the palm of the hand
  • A ropelike growth

Dupuytren’s Contracture Causes and Risk Factors

The actual cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is unknown. However, several risk factors increase a person’s likelihood of suffering from it. One of the biggest is smoking. So if you still need another reason to stop, here it is.

Other conditions that may increase the likelihood of developing Dupuytren’s contracture are:

  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Occupations with exposure to regular vibrations
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Family medical history
  • Being over 50
  • Gender: It’s most common in males
  • Ancestry: It’s most common in people of northern European descent

How is Dupuytren’s Contracture Diagnosed?

When a patient complains about Dupuytren’s contracture symptoms, doctors will run a series of tests that require grasping or pinching items, feeling each of the fingers, and conducting a thorough examination of the hands.

Dupuytren’s Contracture Treatment

Depending on the severity of the deformity, a person could receive conservative treatment, such as collagen injections or needling (using a needle to break apart the cords underneath the skin). However, if the condition doesn’t improve or worsens after receiving nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be necessary.

Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for Dupuytren’s contracture, and even after surgery, the condition may reappear. However, when conservative treatment doesn’t work, it may be worth considering a surgical procedure in order to regain function of the affected hand.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms related to Dupuytren’s contracture, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.