Newly Diagnosed, not sure how to continue living.

Dreamstate Member Posts: 6
edited 24. Jun 2023, 12:46 in Living with arthritis


I got the dreaded Osteoarthrosis diagnosis yesterday, on the left hand all of my thumb and 2 wrist joints, on the right 3 PIP joints. I'm 28.

Very light arthrosis, no erosion yet.

I work as a designer and i'm a gamer so i use my hands a lot, been having troubles with my hands and arms for 13 years now. That coupled with the very sedentary lifestyle i was leading got me this prize.

I was working 10+ hours a day and filling the rest with gaming. Little to no breaks and no exercise was bound to do some damage. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes as they say. I had a really bad RSI case last year and since then i started to radically change my life, little too late apparently.

I just had a mental breakdown, i don't know how to continue. I am afraid of even using my hands now.

Got told gaming, as long as it's with a keyboard and not a controller and work is fine to do, but i'm frozen in place.

I don't know what will happen to me, i got so many questions.

Couple of them:

I started going to the gym regularly, do i need to stop that now? (Stuff like weight training, doc said to not deal with heavy loads)

Can i train my ligaments to allow me to reclaim controller gaming for example?

Can i keep on working until i retire?

Will i ever be completely unable to move my hands? (Can surgery help)

When do i stop using my hands? What signs do i need to listen to?

Is it worth living like this?

How can i get better?

It hasn't been a day and i feel like i'll be a worthless burden to my fiance down the road.

My mental state has turned dark really fast, i worked so damn hard for my life, i love my job and my hobby too. I'm afraid, i'm confused and i need help.


  • Ellen
    Ellen Moderator Posts: 1,485

    Hello @Dreamstate

    Welcome to the online Community.

    I can see you are really struggling with your recent diagnosis of osteoarthritis in your hands and wrists. Most people go through what you are going through with a new diagnosis. In fact so much so that Versus Arthritis produced some information especially for those recently diagnosed:

    There is a section about adapting? Might be particularly relevant to you.

    A shock diagnosis like this is understandably likely to affect your mental health. This information might help:

    and finally in response to your question about surgery:

    I will leave you now to meet our members, but please do keep posting. Our helpline is also available, Monday to Friday, if it would help you to talk to a voice:

    My very best wishes and apologies for the glut of information.


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

  • Bettyboo22
    Bettyboo22 Member Posts: 22
    edited 24. Jun 2023, 16:09

    Hi @Dreamstate

    Sorry to read your situation, please stay strong there are lots of different self management techniques you can try to keep your lifestyle with some moderations.

    Have you heard of wax bath therapy? I've heard it can be soothing for your hands.

    There is also a charity Arthur's Place that supports young adults with arthritis with podcasts, apps, and an online magazine.

    You mention being in a dark place, it is important to get support when you are feeling low, you could call Samaritans on 116123 or there is Mind on 0303 3123 3393, these are great options to help you explore how you are feeling and get some specialist support. There is also the Versus Arthritis helpline 0800 520 0520 open Mon-Fri 9am - 6pm.

    I know this can be confusing and scary but please know you are not alone.

    Take care

  • Baloo
    Baloo Member Posts: 358

    I wouldn't be in a hurry to give up the gym. Its the obvious place you can dial down the weight to your safe working load, and do dozens of reps compared to just sitting around going stiff. Be creative. It can be really satisfying to target the muscles around your weak joints and get some mobility back that you wasn't expecting.

    You can run a number on it by advising the doc you really dying to do more at the gym but your grip and arms aren't up to much. Get down to specifics like what muscles and joints are giving trouble and what you wanted to use them for, and see if the doc will get you some X-rays of the area and a referral to a physio.

    it a bit of an effort but think of it this way, where else for example, are you going to do 15 minutes of gentle rowing across lake Geneva or anything and get some of that nervousness out of your system. You going to go home and do nothing?

  • First of all, thanks for the quick replies.

    I was at the gym but a bit of hand pain scared me into stopping for the day. I did cardio and leg training.

    I don't know what a safe workout load is, how it's supposed to feel and i don't know if i can even experiment now.

    How's it supposed to feel like when i work out, can i destroy my hands completely by experiment and pushing too far once? How fragile is this and how much care do i need to give it?

    I feel utterly defeated and like a joke after driving to the gym only to do barely anything

  • Forgot to add, i got 5 sessions of ergotherapy and potentially more afterwards. Need to schedule those

  • Baloo
    Baloo Member Posts: 358
    edited 25. Jun 2023, 03:34

    Pretty much in line with my own experience, I ended up only able to use leg press. It was stiff and I felt it was a bit dumb but after three months I was climbing stairs again, and my physio exercises are with a view to maybe (we don't know yet) being able to bicycle (probably static bicycle) as the X-ray doesn't show much knee damage.

    We need somone with arm and hand experience to say what might be possible with arms and hands. what I do know so far is I can't dumbbell with more than a few kilograms but that might be the way I would go so I can lift stuff easier. I hacksawed up an entire office chair once with no problem, so I know the use is not entirely gone but where is it now.. . . Could I cook a Christmas dinner, should I do the garden, I don't know. I can still use a computer, with limitations.

    I treat my joints as fragile, which means slow and gentle. None of this faster faster business.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,020

    Morning @Dreamstate

    Never heard of ergotherapy before! But think it's maybe physio/OT?

    We have occupational therapy here in the UK normally. Is that what it is and are you not UK based?

    You can and probably should keep exercising. I would anyway the gym is fine I was always told to avoid using teh small joints where possible i.e. carrying heavy bags on my forearm not in my hands.

    This way you preserve the joints for the things you want/need to do.

    I do hope you are feeling less low now? We are all here for each other on this site you are no longer alone ((()))

    Toni x

  • I'm from Germany actually, should be 5 sessions of OT.

  • Dreamstate
    Dreamstate Member Posts: 6
    edited 25. Jun 2023, 11:25

    So i got a question, is like every movement i do from now on wearing down the joints or do i have a safe "amount" of movements i can do in a day? how does this work. I'm scared as hell to even move my hands, still adjusting to everything and i got work tomorrow

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,600


    I can't answer all your questions. In fact, even the docs can't predict some things but I can tell you that you would probably do as much damage by not using your hands at all (surely not possible) as by overuse. Exercise is vital to keep our muscles strong and so supporting the joints. But it does have to be the right kind of exercise not necessarily what we enjoy. I've always been taught to do Range of Movement exercises when flarinģ and strengthening ones when not. Here are some good hand exercises

    If designing is your livelihood and gaming juust a hobby - well, hobbies can be discarded and taken up at leisure. Work, not so easily. I think we have to be flexible mentally in order to cope well and have fun. Be prepared to change things if necessary. I've changed lots of things and so discovered many more. My arrhritis started in my hands over 60 years ago. I can still use them to good effect.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Dreamstate
    Dreamstate Member Posts: 6
    edited 25. Jun 2023, 12:37

    So i should keep on using my hands? for training as well?

    I'm willing to reduce my gaming (already done) but work's what i can't drop, i love it. I'm just afraid that i'm doing further damage.

    You've had hand arthritis for 60+ years? what changed over the years? were you able to keep up your job?

    How much can you use your hands today?

  • Baloo
    Baloo Member Posts: 358

    I think you should listen to the pain and find out what it's telling you. How else you going to know.

    Your body is made of tough stuff and unlikely to wear out particularly fast but has new limits now on how much punishment it can take.

    How much rest do you hands need before they get better, how much activity before they get worse and you have to stop.

    Probably Monday you will be good to go and by Friday had enough.

  • N1gel
    N1gel Member Posts: 158

    Aaah @Dreamstate I feel for you. I'm a 61 year old Sculptor using my hands.

    First thing to remember is you've got creativity and nothing can take that away from you. The ability you've got to design and problem solve, will stand you in good stead when instinctively coming up with strategies to work round the OA.

    I spent a long time punishing my arms & hands through using crutches; got diagnosed with OA in elbows & thumbs etc a few years ago.

    I went through a period thinking I'd have to give up sculpting and drawing, but the love (some might say obsession!) to create kept me going - finding 'hacks' and I'm still exhibiting. It's as much about mental resilience as physical resilience.

    I had a steroid injection in the base of my thumb a few months back which has done wonders (while not a cure) but an identical one in my elbow did nothing.