Why is Research on Dupuytren’s Contracture So Scarce?
Despite affecting almost 5% of people in the US, the research on Dupuytren’s contracture remains scarce. This condition is not often looked into because it's commonly misdiagnosed. This is because the main symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture are quite similar to symptoms associated with other diseases that affect the hand and its palmar fascia.
While this is the primary reason researchers fail to learn more about this mysterious condition, other factors also play a role in its visibility within the medical world. Some of these factors are other conditions that place someone at risk for developing Dupuytren's.
We have reviewed the fact that Dupuytren's is hereditary in nature, so someone with family members who have Dupuytren's are more likely to develop symptoms themselves. Other typical risk factors for this condition are someone's age (older adults are more likely to get it than younger adults) and their gender (it's more common in males than in females).
Scientists aren’t entirely sure if this disease is genetic. Some believe it is, but others are confident genetics do not play a part in the disease. The good thing is that research on the topic is continued, so there is still time to determine the true cause of Dupuytren's.
Conditions That May Predispose Someone to Dupuytren's Contracture
Here is what we know about this disease so far. Aside from age and gender, a few other risk factors may aggravate Dupuytren’s contracture, including:
Someone with diabetes is thought to be nearly 10 times more likely to develop Dupuytren's. This is dependent on how severe the diabetes is, whether or not the person manages it well and keeps it under control, and how long they've been diabetic.
Diabetic people are at risk for circulation issues, which may make moving small joints more difficult. These mobility issues are also present with Dupuytren's, so it poses a concern for someone with both of these conditions. Luckily, when Dupuytren's develops in diabetic individuals, cases are not usually as severe. But this can still cause problems with hand movement if someone doesn't try to manage their symptoms.
Alcoholism and Smoking
Both of these habits are common risk factors for a range of conditions. However, this may still be up for debate according to some researchers. Some studies have shown that people who regularly consume alcohol and have alcoholic liver disease have a higher chance of getting Dupuytren’s contracture.
Similarly, smoking can be a big factor that predisposes someone to Dupuytren’s contracture. Smokers are twice as likely to develop Dupuytren’s contracture compared to people who do not smoke. Additionally, people with smoking typically have poorer circulation. While symptoms of Dupuytren's have to do with hardened tissue in the hand, having good blood flow helps heal tissues and muscles while improving mobility. So any decrease in circulation will certainly not help Dupuytren's. This is why we typically suggest that you refrain from these bad habits.
According to studies, people who have suffered some kind of hand trauma or injury to the hand have a 40% higher chance of developing Dupuytren's.
This particularly includes people who have previously fractured their hand (more specifically, the larger radius bone in the wrist). As a result of this fracture, someone is susceptible to poor finger motion, which can lead to Dupuytren’s. It is also known that overstretching the hand, which happens in tendon or nerve injuries, can cause damage to structures that are also affected by Dupuytren's.
Aside from these common factors, other chronic conditions can worsen or lead to the development of Dupuytren's. These include arthritis, which causes joint and cartilage problems that lead to stiffness, swelling, poor motion, and more. These issues can compound those associated with Dupuytren's and cause someone even more impairment in the hands. Thyroid disorders don't seem to be very related to Dupuytren's but they can also play a part in its course. People who have unmanaged thyroid conditions are more at risk for swelling in the hands, which can prevent good mobility.
As you can see, taking good care of your health is crucial for many reasons. It's important to avoid habits like smoking and drinking and do your best to manage other medical concerns that can cause long-term problems.