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Dupuytren’s contracture, living to 100 despite unhealthy lifestyle

Created date

September 20th, 2011

Q.For years I thought I had arthritis in my right hand until my doctor diagnosed me with Dupuytren s contracture. What can I do about this condition?

A. Dupuytren s contracture is when the fibrous tissue under the skin of the palm and fingers thickens. Nodules (typically painless) appear on the palm and may restrict movement and cause curling of the fingers. Contrary to what some people believe, it is not caused by overuse of the hands. Genetics and certain medical conditions such as diabetes may be associated with its onset, as are alcohol use and liver disease. It is more common in men than in women. Treatment can include exercises, splints, or warm soaks. For some people, surgery followed by physical therapy can restore normal movement of the hand and fingers. Some newer treatments include enzyme injections and a less invasive surgery that can be done in a specialist s office. The condition may still recur even after treatment. Talk to your doctor about a referral to an orthopedic doctor or hand specialist for evaluation and to discuss the best treatment for you.

Q.Why can some people live to be 100 and be in fairly good health despite an unhealthy lifestyle?

A. Emerging research is starting to show that genetics may play a stronger role in longevity than lifestyle choices. There may be genes that actually protect against the unhealthy effects of smoking, physical inactivity, and a poor diet, even if you have a family history of high blood pressure, for instance. That s not to say that if your parents lived to be centenarians, you should throw caution to the wind when it comes to health maintenance behaviors. A healthy diet, physical activity, and a strong social network have all been proven without a doubt by the scientific community to be the best insurance against disease and disability.

Thomas Morris, D.O.

Erickson Living Regional Vice President

Dr. Morris studied pre-med at St. Xavier College in Chicago, Ill. He then went on to obtain two degrees: chiropractic medicine from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, and osteopathic medicine from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Chicago. He is board-certified in family practice.