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Dupuytren’s Contracture - The Viking’s Disease

September 04, 2020

Dupuytren’s Contracture is known by numerous names. Among these names is ‘Viking’s Disease’. This may sound like an odd name for a disease, but once you come to know about the history behind the name, it actually begins to make sense.

The name "Viking’s Disease" originated from research that held the belief that Dupuytren’s Contracture was most commonly found in Vikings or the inhabitants of Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden. 

However, this name changed after a French doctor named Guillaume Dupuytrenbecame the first doctor to operate on a person who had contracted the disease. 

He then went on to write a detailed research paper on the disease and hence, the Viking’s Disease came to be known as Dupuytren’s Contracture.

Cell Types 

The development or progression of Dupuytren’s Contracture depends largely upon the change that occurs in two types of cells found in the palm. These two cells are:

  • Fibroblasts

    Fibroblasts behave as the connective tissue producing cells of the body. They play a key role in the easy movement of fingers.

    • Myofibroblasts

      In contrast to Fibroblasts, Myofibroblasts are largely composed of actin, which helps them to not only repair connective tissues but also plays a major role in contraction.

      These two cells work together in the palm to help in finger contraction and movement. However, when affected by Dupuytren’s Contracture, abnormal production of Myofibroblasts takes place. 

      This is essentially what causes the tightening of the skin or the pulling of the fingers inwards.

      Residual Phase of Dupuytren’s Contracture

      The third stage of Dupuytren’s Contracture, also known as the Residual phase, is when the disease progresses beyond what any treatment can fix or help.

      In the Residual Phase, the type 1 collagen becomes dominated by the production of Type III collagen, which is usually found in blood vessels to keep them firm. 

      In this phase, this collagen goes on to keep building until the chords formed become permanent and only become firmer with the passage of time. This results in what doctors call, a ‘contracture deformity’.

      At this point, the fingers become permanently bent towards the palm which results in complete immobility of the hand. This prevents patients from performing simple everyday tasks such as picking things up.


      It is important to remember that there is no way to cure Dupuytren’s Contracture once it has gone past the point of no return. This is the reason why we suggest going for early diagnosis. It can help slow down the rapid progression of this disease.

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