Duputyrens Contracture: Why can't I straighten my finger?

Duputyrens Contracture

Why Can't I Straighten My Finger?

Duputyrens Contracture is often called the Viking disease as its very much related to North European heritage. Perhaps the incessant rowing over the hazardous North Sea and then clutching those heavy swords which they used with such effectiveness to diplomatically show the early residents of York and the North what the Vikings could do for them.

So What Happens to my Finger in Duputyrens?

Amongst the many gifts from the Vikings was this contracture which happens particularly to people with a bit of Viking in them..it happens over time especially in those aged 50 or over – What doesn’t? . The first symptoms may be the inability of putting your hand in a pocket as the outermost fingers start to contract. This is followed by usually the outermost fingers starting to flex over, putting on gloves proves tricky and handshaking can prove awkward (but in these days of corona virus may be seen as an advantage.)

What goes on in my hand?

Overtime a sufferer may feel a thickening of the skin particularly over the palm near the last two fingers, the skin may pit a bit as the tendon pulls on skin and eventually a hard fibrous nodule is felt. When this becomes severe the ring or little finger may buckle over and lead to tears in the skin. Thankfully the thumb is never affected in this condition as this would lead to far more disablement. Indeed the history of these Isles would be different as the poor old Vikings’ swords would have dropped out of their hands and have had to return to Sweden as laughing stocks.

Causes of Duputyrens

Nobody knows. That’t the problem apart from the heritage. This condition certainly runs in families and there does seem to be a link to people who are diabetic. Of course the fun things in life like alcohol and tobacco seem to be heavily linked as well, and certainly if you have blond hair , wearing a helmet with horns, and finding the grip lessening when you hold a sword now would be the right time to give up the fags and alcohol.

Complications of Duputyrens

One thing for sure you’re not going to die of this condition which should be a relief to many. However the problem lies that it can cause varying degrees of disablement for example writing / holding a pen can become impossible. You can imagine life if you’re a keyboard warrior (the modern equivalent of working with your sword). Your hand would never be able to tackle such a modernity. Simple things like getting things from you pocket become problematic..

Treatment Possibilities for your contracted hand

Certainly in the initial stages stretching your fingers and Osteopathic Manipulation may well help symptomatically, by breaking down some of the hard chords however this may be a temporary event. Studies have shown that Acupuncture or needling around the tendon can certainly help alleviate pain and some studies suggest that it may provide benefit for a period. So if it has started it is certainly worth having some treatment to try and help alleviate this problem.

If your fingers are curled over and is now totally inflexible then there are two choices:

  1. The first is a drug called Xiaflex, (but recently having spoken to a hand consultant who told me this is very difficult to obtain on the NHS now due to cositng (surprise surprise!), however if this is obtainable by whatever means then this substance is injected around the fibrous part of the tendon and after a few days the fingers are manipulated and you may feel a painless “pop” as the finger straightens. Duputyrens can return of course and the advantage is this treatment can be repeated.
  2. Surgery: The final resort if nothing else helps, this can be curative , but after such surgery it takes a few weeks to regain full use and of course the main disadvantage of surgery is it is surgery.

Finally if you think you may have a problem with your fingers or this condition might be starting give me a call as its fairly easy to diagnose and some treatment can be initiated to help bring back some function.

Laurens holve healthcare

Laurens Holve Healthcare is a trusted osteopath with over 35 years of experience helping patients in North London and Woking. 

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