What is Dupuytren’s contracture?
Dupuytren’s contracture is sometimes also called the ‘Viking Disease’. The condition affects one or more fingers, which bend into the palm of the hand and become clawed in appearance. In some cases, the thumb is also affected. The contracture itself is associated with thickening of the connective tissue, where sometimes a nodule or hard lump forms and can be felt under the skin of the palm. These nodules can be tender for a while, although this stage often passes.
The growth is benign and not life threatening – although it can be a nuisance. When the nodules extend into longer structures, they usually cause the contracture. Initial symptoms are often mild, but can worsen. If a contracture does not develop, the condition is sometimes instead referred to as Dupuytren’s Disease.
Who is at risk of Dupuytren’s contracture?
The underlying cause is known to have a genetic link and men are affected more than women. The condition is more common in North Europeans; there are ‘hotspots’ in the northeast of Britain and in Norway. Stopping smoking is thought to reduce the risk. Some experts consider that a genetic predisposing factor which is present in some individuals may then be ‘activated’ by other events including wounds, stress, repeated micro-injuries or vibration – such as in machinery or pneumatic tools, etc. If you are affected by this condition, we recommend that you consult your doctor. You may also wish to take advice if you think that this is related to your work and are considering seeking compensation.
Surgery cannot always fully straighten the affected finger or thumb and the condition may relapse or recur. It may be possible to repeat the surgery. Additionally, medical science continues to investigate and develop new treatments.
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