A condition in which the hand is deformed by diseased palmar tissue, Dupuytren’s disease causes the fingers to bend towards the palm. In the early stages, a person with this disease may find a small nodule in the palm, usually found where the ring finger and small finger meet. Over time, a palpable cord may develop in the palm, extend toward the fingers, and pull them towards the palm, causing the contracture. Even though no pain can be felt by most people with Dupuytren’s contracture, the disorder can progress to a point at which the simplest of tasks can’t be done without much difficulty.
No one knows exactly what causes this disorder, but there are certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood of getting the contracture. Here are some of the possible causes and risk factors of Dupuytren’s Contracture:
Genetics play a role in the probability of acquiring Dupuytren’s contracture or disease. It is estimated that about 60 to 70 percent of people afflicted with Dupuytren’s have a genetic predisposition to it. The disease may be passed on from one generation to another, but this doesn’t mean that you will automatically develop the condition just because one of your parents has it. Nevertheless, your risk of getting it is certainly higher.
Another factor that may predispose a person to Dupuytren’s is ancestry. Although it is possible for people of all types of ethnicities and races to develop the disorder, there are individuals of certain descents who have a greater chance of being affected by the disease. It is with individuals of Scandinavian (Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish) and Northen European (French, Irish, English, Dutch, and Scottish) ancestries that Dupuytren’s contracture is most often seen. The disease is also common in Japan and Mediterranean countries like Bosnia and Spain.
Gender and Age
The probability of men getting Dupuytren’s contracture is ten times higher than that of women, and the disorder tends to develop after people reach 40 years old. If you gather the people who have it, you’ll find that their ages are mostly within the range of 40 to 70 years old. When females get the condition, it is usually later in their lives. The symptoms they manifest are also milder.
Certain Preexisting Medical Conditions
Associations between Dupuytren’s contracture and other medical conditions have been made, although experts themselves can’t find the reason behind the link. Nevertheless, Dutuypren’s contracture is a bit more common in people with disorders such as epilepsy (a brain disorder that causes repeated episodes of seizure), liver cirrhosis (health condition wherein scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue), and diabetes mellitus (long-term health problem involving high levels of blood sugar). While some sources may list alcoholism as a possible risk factor, the association is a weak one. In general, rates of alcohol consumption tend to be higher in individuals of Nordic and Northern European descent, so isolating alcoholism as a probable risk factor is difficult.
Some claim that being exposed to certain hazards in the occupational setting (overexertion of the hands and manual labor) as well as hand injuries might increase the risk of developing Dupuytren’s contracture. These speculations have not been proven, and in fact, have had a lot of doubt casted on them since the condition isn’t associated with handedness.
The exact cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is still a mystery that no one has discovered to this date. There are certain factors that may put you at a higher risk, but even experts cannot assert for sure that these may cause you to develop the disease. However, it is probably a good idea to stay away from the factors that you can avoid. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.