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Dupuytren’s disease

Dupuytren’s contracture (also known as Dupuytren’s disease or Vikings disease) is a benign condition that affects the connective tissue in the palm of your hand and your fingers. It’s traditionally thought the condition originated with the Vikings. However, it was named in the 19th century after a famous French surgeon, Baron Guillaume Dupuytren.

Dupuytren’s contracture typically starts as a small nodule (lump) in your hand, but, as the disease progresses, the nodules grow and cords develop along the tendons of your fingers. These cords thicken and contract your fingers, bending them towards your palm until they’re no longer able to straighten – this is called a ‘contracture’.

Dupuytren’s contracture often affects your ring or little finger, but it may appear anywhere on your palm and fingers.

Symptoms and causes of Dupuytren’s disease

Dupuytren’s contracture is a common condition that affects up to two million people in the United Kingdom (3% of the population). Most cases occur in middle-aged and older people, but it can develop in younger adults.

Diagnosis and treatment for Dupuytren’s disease

Diagnosis of Dupuytren’s contracture is relatively simple. Your doctor should be able to give you an accurate diagnosis after a few questions and close examination of your hands, which will enable them to rule out any other possible causes for your problem. Generally, no tests or scans are needed.

Radiotherapy for Dupuytren’s disease

Radiotherapy, or radiation treatment, is a non-invasive procedure which uses high energy X-rays and other beams, such as electrons, to treat disease. It’s most often used in high doses to treat cancer, but it can also be used in lower doses to treat non-cancerous (benign) conditions including early-stage Dupuytren’s disease.