Dupuytren’s Disease

Duyputren’s disease is a condition wherein the hand is deformed by an abnormal thickening of the tissue underneath the skin of the palm. The disease takes its name from Baron Guillaume Dupuytren, the surgeon who, in 1831, described the surgery to correct the problem. Although the disease does not cause any significant pain, the deformity of the hand may progress to a point at which the finger/s can’t be straightened out anymore. However, there is not much cause to worry as not everyone who manifests signs of Duyputren’s will experience the condition’s progression to such a point that it causes significant restrictions to one’s daily living. Below are more information on this disease:

Causes and Risk Factors

According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, there is no exact cause for Duyputren’s disease to develop in any one person. Nevertheless, there are certain risk factors that predispose one to being afflicted with the condition.

Those who descend from Northern European or Scandinavian ancestors are the ones primarily hit by the disease, which is the reason why the deformity is also called the “Celtic Hand” or “Viking Disease.” A few Mediterranean countries, like Bosnia and Spain, also see a lot of cases of Duyputren’s. It is also common in Japan. Being male also places a person at a greater risk of developing the condition. Males are ten times more likely to get Duyputren’s disease compared to females. However, after they reach 80 years old, the distribution of the disease between both genders is about even. People aged more than 40 years old are also at risk.

Aside from the aforementioned, genetics also play a role in the development of the illness. The percentage of afflicted patients with a genetic predisposition to the Celtic Hand is approximately 60 to 70 percent. Other suspects behind the disease include liver disease, alcoholism, trauma, the use of phenytoin to treat epilepsy, and diabetes. Some speculations also have it that certain occupational exposures and injuries to the hand may cause or trigger the onset of the disease, but a lot of doubt has been casted on these claims. For one thing, Dupuytren’s disease is not in any way associated with a person’s dominant or non-dominant hand.

Symptoms

So how do you know if you’ve got Dupuytren’s? The first thing to look or feel for is a tiny lump in your palm. If you’ve got the condition, you’ll usually find this small lump near where your small finger and ring finger connect. In the later stages of the disease, you may also find a fibrous cord running from your palm to one or more of your fingers, most probably the small or ring finger. This cord is responsible for pulling your finger/s toward the center of your palm, giving way to what is known as Dupuytren’s contracture. There may come a time when flattening your hand on a flat surface or moving your fingers back become impossible. In most cases, there isn’t any pain, but if you do experience pain, it’s most likely in the early stages of the disease.

Treatment

After the proper examinations are done and the diagnosis of the condition is confirmed, any or most of the following may be used to treat the condition. At first, the physician may prescribe steroid shots, a splint, or finger stretches. Some medical practitioners may also make use of needle aponeurotomy, which is a treatment modality that utilizes a needle to separate the tight cords found in the palm.  A patient with Dupuytren’s may also have to be injected with medications, particularly collagenase, to break up the tight tissue. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be required.

Dupuytren’s Disease may sound frightening, but it doesn’t have to be so. Knowledge is the first antidote to fear so get to know the disease more. Once you know more about it, you’ll be better able to seek professional help if you think you’ve got the condition.