BIRMINGHAM, AL – There are many conditions that affect the hand that ranges from both inside and outside factors. Whether it is genetic in nature or trauma, our hands can suffer from damage. It can impact your quality of life, no matter who you are. Still, it can be a little jarring when you hear that a celebrity, like the frontrunner of Motley Crue, is getting hand surgery for something called Viking’s Disease.
When you hear it out of context, it sounds made up for the purposes of being “metal”. Either that, or it sounds like a new nickname for scurvy. But with a bit of research and an explanation, you find out quickly that it is real. So, what is Dupuytren’s Contracture or Viking’s Disease, and how can it affect a person? Let’s find out.
The Origins and Characteristics of Viking’s Disease
An interesting thing about this condition is that it is both very old and unknown in origin. According to the Baylor University Medical Center, ” Tradition has it that the disease originated with the Vikings, who spread it throughout Northern Europe and beyond as they traveled and intermarried. After being present for hundreds of years, DD was named in the 19th century after a famous French surgeon, who was not the first to describe it. “
The disease is a hand deformity that usually develops over the years. The condition affects a layer of tissue that lies under the skin of your palm. Knots of tissue form under the skin eventually creating a thick cord that can pull one or more fingers into a bent position. Once bent, the fingers can no longer be straightened, at least not completely.
At its worst, the disease can reach a very painful stage and limit broad motor skills. This ranges from fully opening your hand, grasping large objects or getting your hand into narrow places.
Risk Factors of the Disease
Usually, this happens to people of Northern Europen descent. Also, it often affects the digits that are the farthest from the thumb. It is also characterized as a condition that is very slow to progress. The weirdest thing about this disease is that no one really knows what causes it. As much as we are able to describe the condition, and even track it in a historical context, we don’t know why it happens at all.
The best that we can do, is find the risk factors. Thankfully, the Mayo Clinic has a list of possible risk factors.
- Age. Dupuytren’s contracture occurs most commonly after the age of 50.
- Sex. Men are more likely to develop Dupuytren’s and to have more severe contractures than are women.
- Ancestry. People of Northern European descent are at higher risk of the disease.
- Family history. Dupuytren’s contracture often runs in families.
- Tobacco and alcohol use. Smoking has an association with an increased risk of Dupuytren’s contracture. Perhaps it is because of microscopic changes within blood vessels caused by smoking. Alcohol intake also is associated with Dupuytren’s.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are reported to have an increased risk of Dupuytren’s contracture.
Can Hand Surgery Cure the Disease
Unfortunately, because there is no understanding of the origins of the disease, there is no permanent cure for it. The best that hand surgeons can do is manually remove the cord. Even then, it can grow back. ” The disease often recurs and needs to be treated again, which increases the importance of interventions that can be repeated. “
The same institution that describes the origins of this disease states when surgical treatment is necessary for this condition. “The decision to operate should be based on the surgeon’s experience, an intimate knowledge of the normal and abnormal neurovascular anatomy in the area. As well as, the need for an increase in function”.
Hand surgeons are looking into drugs as well as minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of the disease. However, unless there is a discovery of where the genetic link for it is, or why the cords develop in the first place, it will still be a medical mystery.
Our knowledge of various medical conditions is constantly changing. Whether it involves hand surgery in Birmingham, AL or any other specialist anywhere else. They can range from annoying to debilitating, and it takes time and research to figure out why they happen in the first place, and what we can do to fix it.