The History of Dupuytren’s Disease

You work with your hands, play with your hands, and sometimes even fight with your hands: your hands are of critical importance in your daily life. Dupuytren’s Contracture is a disorder that is capable of severely damaging your hands and limiting their abilities.  

So what is Dupuytren’s disease really?

Dupuytren contracture is a hand condition in which the layer of tissue underneath the skin of the hand is affected. The problem develops over many years, creating knots of tissue beneath the skin until the fingers are pulled into a bent position. Usually, the ring finger or the pinky finger is affected by Dupuytren’s disease.

Risk Factors:

Risk of developing Dupuytren’s Contracture is associated with the following factors: 

  • Age group- People above 50 are more likely to develop Dupuytren’s disease.
  • Gender- Dupuytrens contractions are most common in men.
  • Diabetes- Diabetes patients are at higher risk. 
  • Ancestry- People with Scandinavian ancestry are more likely to develop this genetic disorder.
  • Tobacco and alcohol usage- Users of alcohol and smokers are at higher risk. 
History of Dupuytren disease

Dupuytren’s disease was studied in 1831 by a French surgeon named Baron Guillaume Dupuytren. However, the condition existed much earlier, first recorded in the Vikings Age in the 9th or 13th century. The disease is said to be from European, more specifically Nordic, descent, having its highest number of cases in Ireland and Scandinavian countries. One study suggests that the disease has affected almost 10% of males and 3.2% of females in Norway.

On December 5th, 1831, a lecture was delivered by Baron Guillaume in which he discussed the permanent bending of fingers. The lecture was published as “Lecon Sur la rétraction Permanente des doigts.” Since then, the disease was termed as “Dupuytren contracture,” despite being discussed by some doctors previously in the 1600s. 

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