Dupuytren’s Contracture is the development of a hard lump on the palm of the hand. The condition is progressive; as it worsens, the hardened tissue pulls down on the finger, making it bend unnaturally. The sufferer is then unable to straighten the finger all the way. In most cases, Dupuytren’s Contracture is not painful at all; in the issues that it is painful, it’s excruciating. The pain is caused to a number of reasons; attempting to straighten the finger puts pressure on the skin, making it unbearable. If the lump is too close to a nerve or blood vessel, this can be painful as well. The node may put pressure on the tendons, making them painful during every joint movement. The skin becomes a hardened lump that the patient will often remove to attempt their own treatment; this leaves the area tender and susceptible to pain.
Certain life choices can aggravate the symptoms of the disease. If the person is a heavy smoker, twenty or more cigarettes a day, they are more susceptible to the condition. This is also the case if the person consumes large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis. The chemical imbalance caused by smoking and drinking is what triggers the condition. This may be one of the reasons males are more likely to suffer from the disease, as men are more likely to be heavy drinkers and smokers.
Past injury and trauma to the hand can also make the condition more aggressive. The tenderness of the tissue in the hand can lead to Dupuytren’s Contracture development.
There is no confirmed cause of Dupuytren’s Contracture; however, the condition is hereditary, so passed down from generation to generation. The condition affects people who are of Northern European descent. The disease is more common in Caucasian males than any other sex or race. The disease was spread throughout Northern Europe by the Vikings as they conquered the region. It was so prevalent in the Vikings that the condition is even known as Viking disease. The disease is also common in the British Isles, where it is known as Celtic Hand or MacCrimmons Curse.
The name Dupuytren’s Contracture comes from the world-renowned French surgeon Guillaume Dupuytren. The condition is also named Vikings Disease, Celtic Hand, Morbus Dupuytren, and Dupuytren’s Disease.
How can you prevent Dupuytren’s Contracture?
The fact that Dupuytren’s Contracture is hereditary makes it almost impossible to prevent. However, individual lifestyle choices do make a person more susceptible to the disease. To stop the condition from being more aggressive, the patient can ease up drinking alcohol. Also, giving up smoking cigarettes is another way to help reduce the aggressiveness of the disease.
Another way to prevent Dupuytren’s Contracture is to eat a more balanced diet. Obesity is another factor that can cause Dupuytren’s disease to be more aggressive. Exercising on a regular basis will also help to reduce the risk of contracting Dupuytren’s Contracture.
Wearing gloves when having to grip tools tightly will also help to prevent the disease from developing. Avoiding carrying heavy items will also help to prevent the disease from occurring.
How do you treat Dupuytren’s Contracture?
The most common Dupuytren’s Contracture treatment is surgery. The infected tissue is removed from the hand after a large incision is made in the affected hand. This leaves a very unsightly scar that is prone to infection. After surgery, the symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture have been known to return. There are other risks like nerve or tendon damage, itchiness to the hand, and potential infection.
The use of a brace or splint is also used to treat Dupuytren’s disease. The brace will stretch out the finger and encourage blood flow to the affected hand. The brace will keep the finger in a straightened position and protect the area from any injury. The downside to a brace is the inability to perform daily tasks when wearing one. The brace makes movements extremely cumbersome and, in some cases, very painful. When wearing a brace, the patient is encouraged to take pain killers to help with this pain.
Doctors will perform a needle aponeurotomy in some cases to treat Dupuytren’s Contracture. This is an excellent alternative to surgery but can also have some severe side effects. Patients have experienced a tingling sensation in the fingers and numbness of the hand after the procedure. There is also a risk of nerve or tendon damage with this treatment.
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