Dupuytren’s Contracture is known by many names. Among these names is Viking's Disease. This may sound like an odd name for a disease, especially in today's day and age. But once you come to know more about the history of Dupuytren's and how it can come about, it begins to make sense.
The name Viking’s Disease came from original research that suggested Dupuytren’s Contracture was most commonly found in Vikings, or inhabitants of Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden. However, this name changed shortly after, when a French doctor named Guillaume Dupuytren became the first doctor to operate on a person living with this condition. Dr. Dupuytren then went on to write a detailed research paper on the disease and, hence, Viking’s Disease came to be known as Dupuytren’s Contracture.
The development or progression of Dupuytren’s Contracture depends largely upon the changes that occur in two types of cells found in the palm. These two cells are:
Fibroblasts serve as the cells that produce connective tissue in the body. They play a key role in easy movement of the fingers, so concerns with the fibroblasts will likely contribute to the development of Dupuytren's. Stage 1 of Dupuytren's involves an excess production of fibroblasts.
Unlike fibroblasts, myofibroblasts are largely made of actin. Actin is what helps cells to repair connective tissues but it also plays a major role in muscle contraction.
These two cells work together in the palm to help with finger contraction and movement. However, when someone is affected by Dupuytren’s Contracture, myofibroblasts are produced in abnormal amounts. At its core, this is what causes the tightening of the skin that may eventually lead to someone's fingers being pulled inward.
In particular, Stage 1 of Dupuytren's also involves a spike in the production of myofibroblasts. This stage also leads someone to develop a whirl-shaped pattern deep within the hand. Stage 2 of Dupuytren's is the time when these extra cells align alongside tension lines. This occurs in preparation for Stage 3 of the condition, which
The third stage of Dupuytren’s Contracture, also known as the residual phase, is when the disease progresses beyond what any treatment can assist with. This phase is also when type 1 collagen production is overtaken by the production of type 3 collagen, which is usually what keeps blood vessels firm.
In the latter portion of Stage 3, this collagen is produced in high amounts until it forms a cord in the palm of the hand. This cord becomes more firm as time goes on and 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 entered Stage 3. This is the reason why we suggest looking into an early diagnosis. At that point, people can find significant pain and symptom relief from natural approaches such as contracture cream.