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Thread: Thumb arthritis

  1. #1
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    Thumb arthritis

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    I finally allowed my dr to take x-rays of my right hand, I've had terrible thumb pain these past few months. I thought, at first, that it was my body rebounding from being on a VERY strong prescription anti-inflammatory for osteoarthritis for the last 3+ years. I wanted to try something less...toxic. The experiment failed, nothing else worked. All that came out of it was lots of pain. So I finally allowed her to order a baseline set of x-rays (the medication was originally for my cervical spine after my mountain bike accident).

    Apparently my hand osteoarthritis is only moderate, but there is severe loss of joint space in more than one joint in my thumb/wrist. I guess that is where the pain is from. Ironically, my left hand looks much worse than my right, and in some ways is less mobile - but it doesn't hurt very much.

    I am curious if anyone here has dealt with this, and if you had success with any alternative approaches. I am going to see my ART guy next week, he is my chiro and has done wonders for my neck and t-spine. He isn't sure if he can help with this but wants to at least look it it - it really depends on where the pain is from. If it is more muscular then he can help - if it is more bone then he probably can't. Worth trying before I go see some stranger for hand therapy.

    Thankfully it hasn't impacted my kettlebell lifting, gotta keep my priorities straight Typing, however, it does sometimes bother but so far not often, thankfully no signs of carpel tunnel.

  2. #2
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    I have some arthritis in the big left thumb joint but it's directly related to breaking the joint while skiing (actually, crashing) when I was a kid. Doesn't to get any better or worse, just is.

    Hope you can get some relief!

    Electra Townie 7D

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pax View Post
    I have some arthritis in the big left thumb joint but it's directly related to breaking the joint while skiing (actually, crashing) when I was a kid. Doesn't to get any better or worse, just is.

    Hope you can get some relief!
    Most of the pain is from the wrist arthritis, but I don't think it really matters WHERE it comes from. As I said my other hand looks much worse and has more mechanical problems - but it rarely hurts outside of minor twinges - probably in sympathy with the other hand. Hopefully I won't take after my mom in this aspect, she had terrible arthritis - though she didn't have much pain from her hands. Thankfully the medication does help but not as well as it once did. Sorry to hear about your skiing accident, but hope you were at least having fun before it happened

  4. #4
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    I can get pain in the first MCP joint for two reasons.

    One is autoimmune inflammatory arthritis for four to six months after a flu shot (stopped getting them several years ago for that reason) - that's pretty distinct with redness, swelling and heat.

    The other is directly connected to my shoulder injury. Mostly the subscapularis, but the whole shoulder girdle is connected to the hand. The fascial line pulls the thumb out of alignment and wears on the joint. I know you've been working super hard on good shoulder alignment - the things my yoga teacher emphasizes really help me here - warm up with full hand stretch with arm extended either overhead or to the side, focusing on stretching each finger away from the thumb sequentially, then the whole hand as wide as possible, holding for a good 30 seconds in each position. Good hand positioning when we're weight-bearing on the hands doesn't seem to affect my thumb joints as much, but it's so critical to shoulder alignment that it bears repeating - weight concentrated on the second and third metacarpal heads, none whatever on the pisiform, feeling as though you're sucking the center palm in and up, wrist crease perpendicular to the body. No clue about kettlebell grip, but if there's anything you can do to keep your hand bones in good alignment with each other and with your shoulder there, I'd be conscious of it. If anything's going to help rebuild the joint space, keeping the fascia healthy and creating some space for the body to rebuild cartilage is a prerequisite.

    You probably already take glucosamine - it does help my knees - what I've seen in the literature favors glucosamine sulfate over hydrochloride, and warns that rebuilding joint space doesn't necessarily relieve pain - but I think it's worth a try if you haven't already.

    Hope you can get some relief.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
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    Thanks Oakleaf, I will look into it. Only the snatch hurts my hand, and since that also hurts my shoulder when I do it for time, I only do short fitness sets rather than competition volume.

    Apparently I've lost severe joint space in the 1st carpometacarpal, and narrowing/degenerative changes in other wrist joints. I think those the likely pain culprits. There are similar changes in many of my interphalangel joints but - outside of my thumb - those don't hurt. They just look painful. I will look into the glucosamine, I've been avoiding supplements outside of protein and BCAAs. My Dr has also suggested a couple others to support my blood glucose control. I've read that HRT can protect women from osteoarthritis, but i am not about to start that given my mom's cancer history.
    Last edited by Catrin; 01-16-2015 at 04:56 AM.

  6. #6
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    not necessarily a cure but definitely a palliative approach which may help some with the discomfort. Even if it is only when you are in bed, find and wear wool fingerless gloves. Mine are knitted from the first wool I ever spun but if you have a friend who knits otherwise you can try Etsy or somewhere like that. Min come well below my wrist knuckles and cover my fingers to the first joint on each finger. I wear these religiously when I am in bed and a lot during the day depending on what I am doing. They are a tremendous help in keeping my hands warm and supple.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
    Trek Madone 6.5- "Red"
    Trek Pilot 5.2- " Bebe"


    "easily outrun by a chihuahua."

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the tip I will certainly try it. Do you have problems with the pain waking you at night?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    Thanks for the tip I will certainly try it. Do you have problems with the pain waking you at night?
    yes the pain does wake me a bit at night but its mostly on waking up and trying to move and then depending on what I am doing on and off during the day which is why I wear them both sleeping and waking.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
    Trek Madone 6.5- "Red"
    Trek Pilot 5.2- " Bebe"


    "easily outrun by a chihuahua."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by marni View Post
    yes the pain does wake me a bit at night but its mostly on waking up and trying to move and then depending on what I am doing on and off during the day which is why I wear them both sleeping and waking.
    I should have never experimented with a less strong/toxic medication, that seemed to have really set me up. Or my timing for the experiment was just plain bad - the break-through pain isn't as bad as it was, but I think it is as good as it is going to get. After 3 full years on the Voltarin I HAD to try, though I probably could have done it smarter than how I approached it. Such is life, I can still use my hands and that is a blessing - and as aggravating as it is, it is MUCH better than when I was taking the Celebrex (or nothing).

    Are you talking about something like this? Merino wool Here is something else at Amazon, still a wool blend and less expensive - I do have long fingers, but small hands. I like the price of the Amazon version, but am wondering if the cable knit might be bulky. Still looking, but it is probably down to these two to choose from - it is nice that the Etsy version isn't from China...
    Last edited by Catrin; 01-17-2015 at 05:41 PM.

  10. #10
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    Hi Catrin
    Regarding experimenting with less strong NSAIDs - I did that too. It took 3 weeks to get back to a normal blood level and less pain. Won't go there again.

    I had bad thumb arthritis and saw a hand specialist. He did an "anchovy" surgery where (I'm probably going to botch this) they take out part of the bad joint and fill it with a wadded up tendon. He was supposedly the best surgeon in town, as attested to by other people in the medical field.

    The result - I have less mobility and I still have pain (but not nearly as bad.) He assured me that I would regain 95% of my strength - not true. I'm still leery of lifting dumbbells over my head during a bench press. When it is cold and damp, the pain is bad. I now have pain in my other thumb and I'm going to live with it.

    My PCP was right. Avoid surgery at all costs. That's my experience.
    To train a dog, you must be more interesting than dirt.

    Trek Project One
    Trek FX 7.4 Hybrid

  11. #11
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    Thanks for your story Dogmama! I saw my chiropractor yesterday for some hand therapy with ART. Like he said, he can't do anything with the bones, but quite often the actual pain is from tight and or fibrous soft tissues putting stress on the joint. while the ART treatment was....intense, for the rest of the day there was NO pain! Obviously it will take more than one treatment, and it is a bit more tender this morning, but he thinks I am a good candidate for this working. Next week it will be a Graxton treatment which will take a bit longer to recover from, he didn't want to do that right before a 7 hour drive.

    About the surgery, yeah, I've read that quite often there is still pain after thumb surgery. That would be my very last option.

  12. #12
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    Dogmama, you might want to consider having a skilled ART practitioner look at your other thumb if you have access to one. If the pain is related to mine then it should provide some relief. ART is how my recent strained bicep tendon heald so quickly.

  13. #13
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    Much to my surprise, two days later my thumb is STILL pretty happy, all things considered! Occasional problems, and I know it if I roll over on that hand but nothing like before. Frankly as bad as it was, I was concerned about this trip so am thankful and will continue treatment.

  14. #14
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    Both my Dr and reading mentioned using knitting or other needlework as a way to help hand and thumb arthritis. I used to do a LOT of this before I got off the couch in 2009 and lost my weight. Have been too busy to pick up a needle since.

    Am not sure about surface embroidery yet, as much as I love it, and needlepoint, I don't think my thumb is ready for that. Knitting, however, might be a different story. So I've been experimenting with wood circulars. It seems to work well as long as I warm my hands first (literally), and do finger/wrist exercises. So.....Knitting as a sport

    I will likely have to stick with short sessions, sprints rather than marathons, but combined with everything else it seems to be helping. I am hoping to reach the point where I can return to my different styles of both surface embroidery and needlepoint. I still have all of my supplies and could stock a small store
    Last edited by Catrin; 02-05-2015 at 04:49 AM.

  15. #15
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    Finally my thumb and wrist are calming down. I don't know if it is from the ART treatments, the knitting, or both but I will take it. The hand isn't back to normal, but it is down to a bearable level and I will take it. There are visible changes in the 1st carpometacarpal joint but it is functional once again. I don't know how much of the last 3 months of pain and discomfort was directly related to my experiment with trying to drop or go down to a less toxic anti-inflammatory but I won't be doing THAT again. I DO think that I want to start taking a supplement to support my liver though since it is obvious I have to keep taking the dicolfenac sodium. Pity it doesn't work as well as it once did, but I was/am on the strongest dose available and I won't take anything stronger. Of course, it is also possible the OA had gotten to the point where it would have flared like this anyway, but I am sure the medication experiment didn't help.

    VERY thankful - and I am not giving the knitting up Also started up an old blackwork project I had the materials for to mix things up so I don't over-do the same motions. I am not allowed to even consider new projects until these are finished, and these two will take quite some time. Oh yes, and I can even write once again without pain as long as I don't try to write more than a couple paragraphs at a time.
    Last edited by Catrin; 03-07-2015 at 02:14 PM.

 

 

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