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By Brittany Ferri December 13, 2020

While there has been a great deal of research regarding the causes of Dupuytren’s Contracture, doctors are still unsure why this condition develops. TheDupuytren Foundation has confirmed that there is a definite link between Dupuytren’s Contracture and liver disease. In this article, we’ll dig a little deeper into what causes Dupuytren's Contracture in people also living with liver disease and why there’s a link between these two conditions.

The Link Between Liver Disease and Dupuytren’s Contracture

It appears that the main factor in determining someone's risk for Dupuytren’s is genetics. Studies have shown that, while many people with a family history will carry the gene that contributes to Dupuytren's, only some develop symptoms.

People who do have a genetic tendency toward Dupuytren's are even more likely to develop the condition if they have liver disease. It’s thought that certain conditions have an impact on a person's Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which in turn increases their likelihood of developing Dupuytren’s.

Liver conditions, including fatty liver disease and cirrhosis, affect the body’s ability to regulate chemicals in the blood. When the blood contains certain levels of chemicals or cells are damaged as a result of poor liver function, they can affect other areas of the body.

A liver that is damaged or diseased is not able to rid the body of toxins as efficiently as it should. As a result, this affects the quality of cells everywhere, meaning an already sensitive area of the body will likely become inflamed. For people with an existing risk of Dupuytren's, this sensitive area is the palm.

Other Effects of Liver Disease

Dupuytren’s is not the only condition that is connected to liver disease. While the liver is known for its ability to regenerate cells and regrow in healthy individuals, a diseased liver can greatly shorten a person’s life span. Malnutrition, weight loss, and decreased cognitive function can all result from liver disease.

What Causes Liver Disease?

The most common cause of liver disease is misuse of alcohol. But some people are genetically at risk for liver disease, which can develop even if someone takes good care of their body. Other causes include viruses and infections, such as Hepatitis A, B, or C, which specifically impact the liver.

Certain medications can also damage the liver. The link that exists between epilepsy and Dupuytren’s contracture is due to the ingredients in some medications that are used to control chronic seizures.

The Link Between Alcohol and Dupuytren’s Contracture

While men over 50 years old more often approach their doctor with symptoms of Dupuytren’s, studies show that they often have certain habits in common. Consuming alcohol in moderation is not known to have a direct impact on Dupuytren’s. What doctors and scientists have discovered is that heavy drinkers are more likely to develop Dupuytren’s secondarily due to other issues in the body that result directly from alcohol.

The link between liver disease and Dupuytren’s has been established for many years, so doctors have become accustomed to inquiring about alcohol consumption when someone reports symptoms of Dupuytren's.

Can Liver Disease be Cured?

The liver is incredibly resilient and is the only organ (other than skin) that can regrow when part of it has been removed. The good news is that some diseases of the liver can be cured. For example, it is not uncommon for people to fully recover from Hepatitis A or C. However, most diseases that affect the liver are chronic, so they can be managed but not entirely eliminated.

Without careful management, a diseased liver can progress to cirrhosis, which is severe scarring that renders it damaged beyond repair. Cirrhosis scarring is known asfibrosis, which you may recall is the same type of disease that Dupuytren's is classified as. Therefore, doctors associate long-term drinking with Dupuytren’s, as it appears to be another negative outcome of fibrosing tissue.

Lifestyle Changes Could Slow Down Dupuytren’s Contracture

If you are showing signs of Dupuytren's, doctors often firstly recommend cutting down on alcohol (if you are a heavy drinker). Lower alcohol intake isn’t just meant to alleviate the progression of Dupuytren’s, but it’s better for your whole body. This is especially the case if you drink more than the equivalent of one bottle of wine per day.

Heavy smoking, obesity, and poor nutrition are other factors that exacerbate the symptoms of Dupuytren’s. In particular, smoking and obesity narrow the body’s blood vessels and restrict circulation of oxygen, which leads to tissue death. 

Positive lifestyle changes can have a drastic impact on the whole body, and not just on symptoms of Dupuytren’s. There are, of course, instances where patients eat well, exercise, and avoid drinking and smoking, but still develop Dupuytren’s.

These cases are strongly related to someone's genetics instead of lifestyle factors, but it's still important to have healthy routines to assist in managing your condition and relieving pain levels.

Brittany Ferri
Brittany Ferri

Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who has 6 years of clinical experience treating conditions such as Dupuytren's, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and more. She is passionate about educating others about their health.


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