Performing Manual Work and Vibration Exposure Associated with Increased Risk of Developing Dupuytren Disease
Resident Focus - Volume 8, Issue 17
In Dupuytren disease, fibroblast proliferation causes thickening of the palmar fascia, ultimately leading to contractures, severe pain, and disability. It tends to be more prominent in those of European ancestry and in males. It has long been speculated that certain types of upper extremity work exposure have contributed to the formation of Dupuytren disease. As early as 1831, Baron Guillaume Dupuytren spoke of associating the disease with chronic local trauma caused by occupation, citing examples related to working with the palm of the hand or handling hard objects. This included, at the time, wine merchants, coachmen, whip handlers, and masons.
There are currently conflicting opinions as to whether repetitive work exposure actually contributes to the formation of Dupuytren disease. A recent systematic review addressed the issue.
The systematic review authors searched four databases using three key words: “occupational disease”, “work”, and “Dupuytren contracture”. Two readers independently performed a selection of articles, and a quality assessment was performed. Inclusion criteria narrowed the search down to 14 studies. Relevant data were extracted from the articles, primarily in the form of manual work exposure and vibration exposure.
All the studies included were from Europe, and consisted of cohorts, case-controls and cross-sectional studies. Methods of measuring exposure included job title records, questionnaires and detailed interviews. Outcomes were measured by physical examinations conducted by physicians, medical trainees or otherwise not specified.
In the meta-analysis, manual work (using a tool with a handle, manual handling and repairing manual equipment) was associated with an increased risk of developing Dupuytren disease (odds ratio 2.02 [95% CI 1.57-2.6]) in an analysis of 12 studies. Vibration work (using a vibrational tool) was also associated with an increased risk (odds ratio 2.88 [95% CI 1.36-6.07]) in an analysis of 7 studies. When the meta-analysis was limited to more high quality studies, the results remained significant.
This analysis supports an association between manual work and vibration exposure and Dupuytren disease. The results are limited in that the studies were observational so potential bias from other factors could be present. Also, there was minimal reporting of the limitations associated with each study. Further analysis of prospective cohort studies would be beneficial to solidify evidence supporting this association.
Reference: Descatha A, Jauffret P, Chastang JF, Roquelaure Y, Leclerc A. Should we consider Dupuytren’s contracture as work-related? A review and meta-analysis of an old debate. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2011 May 16; 12:96.
For more information, see Dupuytren disease in DynaMed.