Recently diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in my hands

Benjy
Benjy Member Posts: 13
edited 2. Sep 2017, 14:17 in Living with Arthritis archive
Just over a month ago I started to experience pain in my left middle finger, specifically when the finger is moved side to side (when picking up a jug kettle for example). I also started to develop slight pain in a couple of fingers on the same hand and also my right hand (primarily middle finger there too).

The pain isn't terrible and, while the most affected fingers sometimes feel a little stiff when bent there is still full movement and ability to grip (albeit carefully). Sometimes the fingers ache a little when not being used and when I do certain things.

I had all kinds of blood tests, an ultrasound scan and also saw a rheumatologist. Based on my symptoms and the test results he determined that it is osteoarthritis.

He has prescribed a painkiller/anti-inflammatory (Arcoxia) which I have yet to take - I try and avoid drugs unless I badly need them.

Bearing in mind my symptoms, I'm curious what people would recommend as a way to take the edge off any pain. I know that there are all kinds of natural supplements, creams, gels, etc but which is more suited to my symptoms?

Thanks

Comments

  • palo
    palo Member Posts: 239
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Benjy, I was diagnosed with same earlier in the year but have had a long history of painful hands, originally due to Carpel Tunnel and now this.

    TBH if it is mild pain I would just stick to the right exercises, the arthritis books have them I think, and I have been given some more by more physio and keep active.

    I also take Golden Paste, which is turmeric based recipe, which alleviates most of the pain.

    I too only take painkillers as a last resort, I take so many drugs anyway it is my mission to keep it manageable at some level....

    Good luck.
  • Benjy
    Benjy Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry to hear about your problem, and many thanks for the recommendation. I've never heard of Golden Paste before! :)

    Edit: on reading the name I assumed that Golden Paste was something that you applied to the joints, but I see that you eat it. This may be a problem as I also suffer from IBS and the ingredients would sadly play havoc with my guts. :(

    Is there anything effective that can be directly applied to the joints?
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,023
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Benjy and welcome from me too.

    I've been checking out topical creams on the excellent Arthritis Research UK site. They did some research on complementary therapies and capsaicin came out as the best. In tablet form (which I guess you wouldn't want anyway) I think it can only be had on prescription but there are creams which contain it. The usual case with such things is that some are better than others. Your local pharmacist might be able to point you in the right direction. They're very knowledgeable and are usually happy to be asked.

    As you'll see from the pages below, ARUK did find that topical treatments can help but that some can cause burns in some people so they're currently revising their advice.

    I guess it's a case of proceed with caution.

    Good luck with it all.


    http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/news/general-news/2012/september/topical-treatments-offer-relief-from-arthritis-pain.aspx

    http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/news/general-news/2012/september/topical-pain-relievers-may-cause-burns.aspx

    http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-osteoarthritis/capsaicin.aspx
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • Benjy
    Benjy Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks very much for the advice and recommendations. :)

    I'm tempted to avoid the capsaicin applications, partly due to the risk of burns but also because, knowing me, I'll end up rubbing my eyes or, worse still, my dog may lick my hand and end up with a problem!

    Very tempted by the Diclofenac though, is Voltarol Gel the same?


    As an aside, I should say that I now eat more tinned fish (for Omega 3) - mainly sardines.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,023
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Diclofenac is the generic term for Voltarol so, yes, they're the same.

    Tinned fish? As my Mum used to say - if it does you no good it'll do you no harm :wink:
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • Benjy
    Benjy Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Ta, sounds like your mum had the right approach. :)

    Noted re the Voltarol, will give it a go.
  • LesleyJ1509
    LesleyJ1509 Member Posts: 29
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Benjy wrote:
    Just over a month ago I started to experience pain in my left middle finger, specifically when the finger is moved side to side (when picking up a jug kettle for example). I also started to develop slight pain in a couple of fingers on the same hand and also my right hand (primarily middle finger there too).

    The pain isn't terrible and, while the most affected fingers sometimes feel a little stiff when bent there is still full movement and ability to grip (albeit carefully). Sometimes the fingers ache a little when not being used and when I do certain things.

    I had all kinds of blood tests, an ultrasound scan and also saw a rheumatologist. Based on my symptoms and the test results he determined that it is osteoarthritis.

    He has prescribed a painkiller/anti-inflammatory (Arcoxia) which I have yet to take - I try and avoid drugs unless I badly need them.

    Bearing in mind my symptoms, I'm curious what people would recommend as a way to take the edge off any pain. I know that there are all kinds of natural supplements, creams, gels, etc but which is more suited to my symptoms?

    Thanks
    Hi Benjy

    I have had OA in my hands for many years and unfortunately developed heberdens nodes on both hands. My fingers had changed directions and cause me a lot of pain. I also developed a mucus build up which when excised by the GP with a scalpel, kept coming back. So I had joint fusion surgery on both my hands. They will only do 2 joints at a time and will only do 1 hand a year.!! To be honest it is the most painful surgery I have ever had. I now have 2 joints on each hand that are fused at the top joints and now the other joints in my fingers are starting to swell and cause pain. I cannot take anti-inflammatory medications as I am allergic to them so I have had to find other ways of dealing with the pain. If you are just at the start of the disease in your hands i would suggest getting yourself a stress ball and exercising your fingers every day. I also use heat and cold packs to help with the pain. Last time I had surgery I had steroids injected into my joints in my hands but that sadly did not help.

    Ask to be referred to hand therapist . THey do a wonderful hot wax treatment which leaves your hands feeling wonderful. They can also build you a support for your affected fingers to try and keep them straight. This is quite painful though as you are fighting against a joint with a mind of its own.

    I have started a blog on my experiences with osteoarthritis which has pictures too. If you would like to read it please feel free to click the link below.

    Unfortunately osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease so it is all about managing your pain and the changes in your hands.

    http://ljlivingwitharthritis.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

    I wish you all the best and hope that my experiences may be of some help to you.

    Lesley
    Xx


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    love from
    Lesley
    xx

    “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
    ― Mary Anne Radmacher
  • palo
    palo Member Posts: 239
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    thank you Lesley. That is very helpful to me, I am at the nodal and deforming stage of my journey so I will definitely be checking out your blog.

    Can I ask when you hand issues started, mine were in 2004/5 best guess.
  • Benjy
    Benjy Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the very useful information and advice Lesley, I'm very sorry to hear that you have suffered so much. From doing some reading on the subject OA, like many other medical issues, affects different people in different ways and it sounds like you've been badly affected. :(

    I've read about some people who have had OA for many years where it's barely affected them yet others, like yourself, have had a nightmare with it.

    If I may ask, how long have you had OA?

    Incidentally, regarding medication - I was recently reading about the actor Sir Patrick Stewart who also suffers from OA:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/patrick-stewart-medical-marijuana-cannabis-arthritis-a7632721.html

    he uses a medical marijuana for his OA which has helped him a lot. I've been doing a little research into this and this drug IS available on prescription in the UK, but mainly for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers (where it's also beneficial). I have though asked my Rheumatologist to look into it for me and will report back here when he gets back to me.
  • LesleyJ1509
    LesleyJ1509 Member Posts: 29
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Benjy wrote:
    Thanks for the very useful information and advice Lesley, I'm very sorry to hear that you have suffered so much. From doing some reading on the subject OA, like many other medical issues, affects different people in different ways and it sounds like you've been badly affected. :(

    I've read about some people who have had OA for many years where it's barely affected them yet others, like yourself, have had a nightmare with it.

    If I may ask, how long have you had OA?

    Incidentally, regarding medication - I was recently reading about the actor Sir Patrick Stewart who also suffers from OA:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/patrick-stewart-medical-marijuana-cannabis-arthritis-a7632721.html

    he uses a medical marijuana for his OA which has helped him a lot. I've been doing a little research into this and this drug IS available on prescription in the UK, but mainly for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers (where it's also beneficial). I have though asked my Rheumatologist to look into it for me and will report back here when he gets back to me.
    My arthritis started in about 1992 which started with my back. I now have it in my knees my hands and my neck. My elbows have started hurting in the last month and also my feet are starting to hurt too. I went to the doctor in about 2003 saying I thought I had broken my finger as it suddenly pointed in the opposite direction. I was then diagnosed with OA in my hands.

    I am luckily the desktop assessment officer so managed to get all the gadgets at work to make my life easier. I have a track pad instead of a mouse and an ergonomic keyboard. I have voice activated software that I use when I am doing a lot of typing.

    Unfortunately I have had to reduce my hours to 6 hours a day and when I get home I just collapse into bed.

    But I will not let this thing defeat me. I will keep on fighting whilst I have got the strength in my bones.

    X


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    love from
    Lesley
    xx

    “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
    ― Mary Anne Radmacher
  • Benjy
    Benjy Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Lesley, so very sorry to hear of all that you've gone through, 25 years is a long time to have to endure OA as you have.

    You obviously have a fighting spirit and that's great, try not to let it get you down (easier said than done of course!).

    Thankfully my OA is in the very early stages so I'm hoping that I can keep the worst of it at bay with exercise, meds, etc.

    Have you heard of the medical marijuana treatment which I mentioned?
  • LesleyJ1509
    LesleyJ1509 Member Posts: 29
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Benjy wrote:
    Lesley, so very sorry to hear of all that you've gone through, 25 years is a long time to have to endure OA as you have.

    You obviously have a fighting spirit and that's great, try not to let it get you down (easier said than done of course!).

    Thankfully my OA is in the very early stages so I'm hoping that I can keep the worst of it at bay with exercise, meds, etc.

    Have you heard of the medical marijuana treatment which I mentioned?
    Now that I think of it 25 years is a long time considering I am 48 now. I will look into the medical marijuana you mentioned. Thanks. e81e528266e3f39bc84d2f0efd494e1f.jpg

    Thanks for your kind comments and empathy. I am so grateful we can share our struggles on this forum.

    This is my left hand minus my joints.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    love from
    Lesley
    xx

    “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
    ― Mary Anne Radmacher
  • crinkly1
    crinkly1 Member Posts: 156
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Benjy and sorry to hear you are finding things difficult.

    My OA started in my hands about 30 years ago when I was in my early 40s and was very painful then. After trying one at a physiotherapy session I purchased my own wax bath and used it frequently at home, which was soothing and time-saving. I was also prescribed NSAIDs.

    Over the years my finger joints have become increasingly mis-shapen and less functional but the pain has decreased markedly. I no longer take anti-inflammatories as they disagree with my stomach and I only use pain relief if it becomes distracting. (By now most of my joints are affected.)

    I'm very conscious of the appearance of my hands and the inability to make a fist or to straighten my fingers although my 'funny hands' amuse my grandchildren. I drop things easily, need two hands for lifting most items and have trouble preparing vegetables. I use a number of gadgets to make small motor tasks possible and have a great OH who comes to my rescue when needed so it could be a lot worse.

    I use my hands as much as possible which means they have stayed reasonably functional, 'tho not pretty - I even, after some appalling first attempts, manage to knit squares for refugee blankets and am about to try a new local 'walking netball' class.

    It's not a great prospect, Benjy, but advice is out there from Physio and Occupational therapy and the rest is a matter of browsing shops and websites to find the sort of gadgets that will be best for you. Starting with soft-covered thickened handles on everything should reduce pressure and pain.

    Hope this helps a little. Crinkly1 alias Alison
  • Benjy
    Benjy Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the reply crinkly1 (good name!). :)

    I too use my hands as much as possible, my work requires a great deal of dexterity so that helps but it also makes me worry that I may have to give up my current job if the OA starts to cause any major problems.

    Besides my more prominent middle knuckle on each hand (only visible when I make a fist) I see no swelling or distortion and the fingers are fully mobile. My only issue is one of slight to moderate pain when doing certain things, and then mostly only in the middle left finger. First thing this morning my middle left finger was very painful when I bent it on waking up, but within seconds (and a bit of flexing) it was okay.

    I also have days where the pain pretty much vanishes (except for extreme tasks) - yesterday was a good day, today isn't bad either. A few days ago there was noticeable stuffness in my RIGHT middle finger (only when bending it fully inward) but that has now vanished completely.

    To be honest I sometimes wonder if I really do have OA - perhaps there is some other ongoing issue which is causing my problems? Or maybe I'm in denial? ;)


    I must admit that I'm surprised modern medicine hasn't devised a treatment to prevent OA or at least stop it in its tracks. Even cancer is, in a lot of cases, 'treatable' to some degree so why are the experts seemingly so perplexed by OA?
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,713
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    The medical profession can be a bit like a tanker - it takes a long time to change direction. The standard view of OA is that it is the result of wear and tear, and a condition of the elderly. At the risk of sounding cynical, conditions of the elderly are not of much interest to the drug companies, and given that wear and tear and getting old are somewhat inevitable, the medical profession hasn't seen much reason to investigate either. However there is beginning to be an alternative view that there may be an inflammatory aspect to OA causing the joint damage which would help to explain the anomalies that sometimes show up - such as the rate, and age, at which it develops in some people. Some work is being done on treating it that way, and also using RA drugs I think I read recently.
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