St Leonards chef promoting awareness of life with Viking disease

Peter BromwichPeter Bromwich
Peter Bromwich

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A chef from 1066 Country is helping raise awareness of a little-known but common hand condition.

Peter Bromwich, 58, who lives in St Leonards, suffers from Viking disease, also known as Dupuytren’s disease.

It most commonly affects men over the age of 50 and causes the fingers to bend inwards towards the palms, making everyday life very difficult.

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Peter first developed Dupuytren’s in his right hand, aged 40 when he started to notice his little finger bending inwards.

Six years later, both his little finger and ring finger of his right hand were completely folded into his palm.

When Peter was 50 his left hand was also affected by Dupuytren’s contracture, with the decline taking place within six months, compared to the gradual six-year decline of his right hand.

Simple tasks such as doing his shirt buttons up became a struggle, and as time went on, his career and passion for playing music were in jeopardy.

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Last September Peter had two collagenase injections and manipulations in his left hand to break the cords, one in his little finger and the other in his ring finger which proved successful.

However, the doctors said surgery was required to further improve the situation.

In February, Peter underwent a large operation on his left hand. The surgeons released the webbing between his forefinger and thumb, next they performed a trigger release of his middle finger and finally a fasciectomy (surgery to remove the cord) of his little finger and ring finger.

The recovery has not been easy. His little finger became infected and had to be amputated.

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Peter had learned over the years to deal with his Dupuytren’s. However, since surgery life has become more difficult. Peter can’t play his piano nor violin, both of which he has grade 8.

On International Viking Day (May 8), healthcare company Sobi launched to raise awareness of Viking disease.

The condition is thought to have been brought to the UK by Viking ancestors, hence its name.

Nowadays it is called Dupuytren’s disease after the French surgeon who first operated on the condition.

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It affects more than a million people in the UK alone. Photographs of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US president Ronald Reagan show they had Viking disease, and the actor Bill Nighy and BBC cricketing commentator Jonathan Agnew are both known to suffer with the condition.

Anna Schurer, veterinary surgeon and chairman of the British Dupuytren’s Society, said: “The British Dupuytren’s Society is delighted to see a new source of good quality Dupuytren’s disease information.

“There is a clear need for increased awareness of this condition which affects so many people in the UK, particularly in Scotland and the north of England, as our new Viking disease map shows.

“We hope that the website will go some way to identify more patients at an earlier stage of the disease so they can find the information they need and seek medical help as appropriate.”

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