Former NFL football star quarterback John Elway has recently become a spokesperson for Dupuytren’s disease. He has made multiple media appearances and has been in commercials to promote awareness of this condition. Dupuytren’s is also known as “Vikings Disease” due to the large percentage of affected patients with Scandinavian and Northern European ancestry. In this condition the soft tissues of the hand become firm and fibrous nodules can develop in the palm. In many cases a cord of thick fibrous tissue forms in the palm and extends into the fingers. Many patients gradually develop difficulty with straightening out the fingers. Reaching into a pocket, doing a pushup, shaking hands, and putting on gloves can be more challenging if Dupuytren’s gets worse. Often this disease is slow to progress, so patients do not notice it at first. John Elway said that his Dupuytren’s condition made it difficult to grip the football like he used to. Other famous people who reportedly were diagnosed with Dupuyren’s include Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Frank Sinatra.
There is not a known cure for Dupuytren’s disease, but research is ongoing. Treatments to improve the finger contracture are available, and these include needle aponeurotomy, collagenase injections, and surgery. Consult with a hand surgeon if you have Dupuytren’s disease to learn more about the treatment options. When the contracture becomes severe, it is harder to treat.
See picture of a patient from Raleigh Hand to Shoulder Center with Dupuytren’s contracture below: