Five Interesting Facts about Dupuytren’s Contracture

Category: Dupuytren’s Contracture, Hand Therapy

You may not be familiar with Dupuytren’s Contracture, yet over 10 million Americans are afflicted with it. This condition is a genetic illness in which your ring finger is bent toward the palm of your hand. Sometimes other fingers are affected as well. It limits the range of motion for the affected finger(s). Here are five interesting facts about this condition.

Dupuytren’s is Not a Muscle Problem

Since we use muscles to move our fingers, it is easy to assume the problem involves the muscles. It does not. It is caused by a collagen buildup that forms a rope-like cord underneath the skin of the palm. As the cord tightens, the finger is drawn toward the palm. This tightening does not allow for opening of the affected fingers. It is a progressive disease and can be mistaken for arthritis, trigger finger or other conditions affecting the hand and fingers.

The Hemorrhoid Connection

Dupuytren’s Contracture got its name from Napoleon Bonaparte’s hemorrhoid doctor. In 1834 the French surgeon, Baron Guillaume Dupuytren, published an article about the condition in a medical journal. Dr. Dupuytren was known for treating Napoleon’s hemorrhoids. At least 11 other medical conditions and instruments were named by him. The only one to survive through the years is Dupuytren’s Contracture.

Dupuytren’s is Not Alone

This disease is connected to three related conditions. Having one of them increases your risk of having Dupuytren’s Contracture. Also, having Dupuytren’s increases your risk of developing one of these other problems. The associated conditions are frozen shoulder, Peyronie’s Disease, and Ledderhose Disease. Peyronie’s affects the penis and Ledderhose affects the bottom of the feet. In these diseases, the fascia, which is connective tissue right beneath the skin, is affected.

Blame It on the Vikings

Dupuytren’s was prevalent in Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Because of this, it was called the Viking Disease. Today, 30% of the over-60 Norwegian population has it. It affects 40% of the men over age 70 in Iceland. Apparently though, it predates the Vikings. The disease has also been found in the remains of mummified Egyptians.

It is Incurable, But Treatable

The fascia in the palm becomes inflamed and diseased, forming a cord that pulls the finger(s) closed as it gets tighter over time. Treatment for the condition may involve surgery to remove all or part of the fascia, which can release the finger(s); another option uses an enzyme injection to soften the fascia. A third minimally invasive treatment involves using a sharpened needle to probe and cut the collagen cord. All three treatments can be effective; however, symptoms will return over time because the condition is incurable.

The prognosis for treatment is better when Dupuytren’s Contracture is treated in its early stages. If you think you may have this condition, contact Sovereign Rehabilitation. Schedule a consultation so we can help you avoid complete contraction of your finger(s) and restore mobility.

Posted on behalf of Sovereign Rehabilitation

Sovereign Rehabilitation – Atlanta Physical Therapist
5555 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Suite 225
Atlanta, GA 30342
Phone: (404) 835-3340
For our patients’ convenience, we offer 14 locations to serve you.