Treatment for Panthers legend Greg Alexander's rare disease leaves him with hairy palms

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Panthers legend Greg Alexander reveals he is suffering from rare ‘Vikings disease’ – and the best way to fight it is through surgery that has left him with HAIRY PALMS

  • Penrith favourite son has Dupuytren’s contracture, aka ‘Vikings disease’
  • Condition makes tissue on the hand tighten, bending fingers in towards palm
  • Best treatment is surgery to cut out tissue and skin graft with hair follicles in it 

Legendary Penrith, NSW and Kangaroos half Greg Alexander is suffering from a condition that can make it hard to straighten his fingers – and the best treatment is grafting skin with hair follicles in it onto the affected area.

The current Fox Sports NRL commentator told the Sydney Morning Herald that he is battling Dupuytren’s contracture, also known as ‘Vikings disease’ because it often strikes people of northern European descent.

The condition sees tissue under the skin of the hand harden, thicken and tighten, making the fingers curl back towards the palm and become difficult to straighten.

Alexander (right, with fellow Panthers legend Mark Geyer, left, in 2021) now has to pluck hairs out of his palm after treatment for a hand condition known as Vikings disease

Alexander (right, with fellow Panthers legend Mark Geyer, left, in 2021) now has to pluck hairs out of his palm after treatment for a hand condition known as Vikings disease

‘I’ve had it now on both hands,’ Alexander explained.

‘What they have to do is open you up and then it’s almost like a calcification where they have to cut it all out.’

The surgery then involves grafting skin over the affected area. In Alexander’s case, the skin was taken from his underarm.

The condition can bend the fingers back towards the palm and make them hard to straighten - leaving Alexander (pictured playing for Penrith in 1992) in need of surgery and skin grafts

The condition can bend the fingers back towards the palm and make them hard to straighten – leaving Alexander (pictured playing for Penrith in 1992) in need of surgery and skin grafts

‘If it’s skin with hair follicles on it, that means that the Vikings disease can’t come back … so every now and then I have to pluck a hair out of my hand. 

‘I feel a little bit ape-like, but that’s exactly how they stopped it coming back.’

Alexander, known by the nickname ‘Brandy’, starred for Penrith from 1984-94 and 1997-99, and had a stint with the Auckland Warriors in 1995-96.

Known primarily as an exceptionally gifted halfback and five-eighth, he also switched to fullback and the wing during a stellar career that saw him play six State of Origin matches for NSW and six games for the Kangaroos.

Alexander captained Penrith to their first grand final victory in 1991, with his outstanding kicking for goal and in general play helping the Panthers to a 19-12 win over the Canberra Raiders.

He now works as an NRL commentator for Fox Sports, and was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, followed by induction into the Panthers hall of fame in 2016.  

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