Dupuytren’s contracture: Margaret Thatcher suffered from the condition
Dupuytren’s contracture occurs when connective tissue in the palm thickens.
The thick tissue forms hard nodules under the skin, which grow to become cords.
The cords can tighten, pulling fingers and thumbs toward the palm.
While the condition isn’t life-threatening, it can be a nuisance, and could get worse over time, according to the NHS.
Margaret Thatcher famously suffered with the condition, along with former US President Ronald Reagan, and Love Actually actor Bill Nighy, said Dr Dawn.
It is marvellously manageable if you catch it early
“With so many tinctures and adornments to keep us occupied with caring for our hands, it’s so easy to lose sight of the more physical concerns of hand health, such as mobility and dexterity,” said Dr Dawn.
“Dupuytren’s contracture is progressive (which means it gets worse over time), and unfortunately has no cure.
“But, it is marvellously manageable if you catch it early, as any build-up of cells and collagen can be removed with straightforward surgery or injections.”
We’re not exactly sure what causes the condition, but links have been made between Dupuytren’s and smoking, drinking, diabetes, excess physical impact and injuries, Dr Dawn added.
Dr Dawn Harper said more and more women are being diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture
Hands are crucial to almost all of life’s daily tasks, so if you detect any lumps, bumps or pitting in your palms, go straight to your GP, she urged.
Difficulty straightening fingers, or skin tightening, could also be a sign of the condition.
“I feel particularly strongly about raising awareness of Dupuytren’s contracture amongst women, because it’s mainly associated as a condition that men have,” said Dr Dawn.
“However, more and more female Dupuytren’s sufferers in the UK are being diagnosed, meaning that we need to start waking up to the symptoms and treatment surrounding this condition.”
Dupuytren’s contracture makes fingers bend toward the palm
About 30 per cent of men with Peyronie’s disease – a condition which causes the penis to become curved when erect – also develop hardened scar tissue on other parts of the body, including for Dupuytren’s contracture.
Many cases of Dupuytren’s don’t need treatment, the NHS said.
Non-surgical treatments include radiation therapy and injections. The condition could also be treated by a small procedure which uses a needle to cut the cord which pulls the finger back.
In more severe cases, the cord can be cut in surgery to relieve tension, or the entire connective tissue can be removed.