In Dupuytren's disease, or Dupuytren's contracture, one or more fingers are bent and can't be straightened, according to Mayo Clinic. This is because the tissue beneath the skin of the palm of the hand thickens and develops knots that slowly cause the fingers to contract.
The fingers that are most often affected by the disorder are the ring finger and the pinky, claims Mayo Clinic. Because Dupuytren's disease is seen so often in older men of northern European heritage, it's also called "Vikings disease." Other than heredity, medical professionals still don't know what causes Dupuytren's disease. Though both hands can be stricken with the condition, one hand is usually in worse shape than the other.
Dupuytren's disease is usually easy for a doctor to diagnose, since the affected finger can't be straightened, and the knots of hard tissue can be felt in the palm, says WebMD. Another test is for the man to place his palm on a table top and try to get it to lie flat. If the hand can't lie flat, then a diagnosis of Dupuytren's disease is possibly in order.
Mild cases of the condition can be eased by stretching exercises, explains WebMD. Patients are also given injections to lessen inflammation. Injections of enzymes can sometimes dissolve tissue enough to let the finger be straightened.