I'm struggling with living with arthritis in my fingers and thumbs


I'm a 60 year old teacher. I was diagnosed with arthritis in my fingers a couple of years ago and had steroid injections into most of the joints but they are not helping any more and my fingers are stiffening to the point that I can't even hold a pen properly. Now the joints at the bases of my thumbs are crumbling and I've been told I need a trapeziectomy.

I take naproxen and paracetamol but wake up in the night with my hands throbbing and can't get back to sleep. I saw the consultant in June and was told the waiting list was 3 months. It's been over 4 months now and I've not heard anything.

I'm really scared of the surgery and about losing the use of my hands. Can anyone out there give me some advice?


  • Ellen
    Ellen Moderator Posts: 1,656

    Good morning @Sue60 Welcome to the Versus Arthritis online community.

    I see from your post that you are a teacher and are struggling with pain in your fingers and now more so your thumbs.

    Your consultant has now recommended you have a trapeziectomy and you are on 'the list'. It may be worth contacting your consultant's secretary to see whether you can take a cancelation at short notice (if your employer will allow that) as this can speed things up sometimes.

    I am going to pop in a couple of links which should be worth reading:


    There is a factsheet about Trapeziectomy in the last link if you scroll far enough through the information.

    We had quite a few people having this surgery a few years ago one of who was @Megrose2 she had both of hers done if I remember rightly.

    Now that you've said hello maybe you'd like to look around the rest of the forum. Living with Arthritis tends to be the most popular.

    Do keep in touch and let us know how you get on


  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,491

    What a nightmare being a teacher and needing your hands to mark work.

    We are expected to keep working until we are 67 I think at the moment too so no likelihood of retiring anytime soon🙄

    Have you ever tried resting splints (special gloves to wear at night) for your hands? You may be able to get them on the NHS but many people buy their own from pharmacies.

    That 3 month list has probably grown in the last 4 months sadly it seems to be the way it is ATM.

    Do try asking the consultant's secretary for a cancellation if you can it's worked for me in the past.

    Take care

    Toni x

  • airwave
    airwave Member Posts: 579

    Dealing with pain needs a multi faceted approach, painkillers were only ever meant to be a short term aid, no matter which ones you have your body will become used to them and stronger doses will be need to get the same relief, that period can be as short as a couple of weeks.

    heat Heat- will reduce pain and promote healing by increasing the blood supply, wheat bags are the best way to get sustainable heat, simply pop into the microwave with a small mount of water, half and inch in a old teacup or mug will heat up quickly and be soaked up by the wheat. Just keep using it. A heavier material such as corduroy works well if you’re making your own.

    Analgesics- there are a few analgesic creams on the market, use in conjunction with the heat.

    Painkillers- use when really needed, not 24/7, the relief will return if not used too often.

    Cognitive skills- can take on many meanings but they all take your mind off of your pain. TV, films, radio, hobbies, craft skills, past times, they all work and can be cultivated. Lying still in the middle of the cold night when time is never ending is the worst time.

    Exercise- protect your joints by exercising them, but first know your limits and then stay within them. Muscles, ligaments and tendons all support joints and a looser joint will wear out quicker.

    The Forum- there are hundreds of pages on this site, do some searching, arther is such a far reaching complaint that someone else’s answer may just suit you, it may just click in your mind and become your answer. How many questions have you asked? How many pages have you read? There fresh questions on here every day, many will have the same answers. Pain is pain no matter the subject but always distressing.

    Pain Therapy Course- run by the NHS, places are in short supply but worth waiting for, many GP’s were waiting for placements. At the end of a few weeks, you’ll be set free to carry on living but with advanced knowledge that will show you a way to lessen your pain. Self help is the name of the game.

    This is just a short précis of what is available and applies to many sources of pain.

    good luck.

    its a grin, honest!

  • scorpio8179

    I have hard swelling on two of my knuckles, does not hurt. Doctor not bothered as not drug addict or under aged mother, have trouble typing and engineering., took me 5 minutes to type this message as fingers do not cooperate, after 60 plus years deserve a bit of consideration I think...

  • HelenS
    HelenS Administrator Posts: 104

    Hi @scorpio8179

    Thank you for posting, hopefully you will find lots of support here on the online community.

    You have swelling on your knuckles and are looking for support or advice.

    Now that you've said hello maybe you'd like to look around the rest of our discussions, Living with Arthritis tends to be the most popular.

    Do keep in touch and let us know how you get on

    Take care


    Need more help - Call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • noddingtonpete
    noddingtonpete Moderator Posts: 1,065

    Hi @scorpio8179 understand with the fingers as I have OA in my hands, you could have a look at the gentle exercises on our stretching videos

    Best wishes

    Peter (moderator)

    Need more help? - call our Helpline on0800 5200 520Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm