Doctors

Speaking of my hands, as I was last post, reminded me that I hadn’t updated.

So, first off, the symptoms in my hands: General joint soreness and stiffness in basically every joint of the hand and wrist.  Stabbing burning pains in the thumb knuckle closest to the palm of the hand (technically the middle joint of the thumb).  This is the same for BOTH hands, though my left is worse, possibly because the pain is worse when I’m attempting to do things requiring either fine motor control and/or extended hand-strength grip and I tend to be right handed and so hold things with my left.  I’ve recently noticed some issues with extension of the pointer finger (right hand), notably when I’m typing.  Its really obvious when I’m typing and I’m constantly struggling to hit certain keys anyway.

So, I have now seen a total of four doctors (besides my primary care doc) in an attempt to figure out whats going on with my hands.

The first was a hand & nerve reconstruction specialist, back in 2009, who told me it wasn’t ligament or tendon damage, and since my bloodwork was normal it wasn’t rheumatoid.  He said it was probably the sort of thing that happens when you abuse your joints the way I have.  Basically mild arthritis.

The second doctor was the first rheumatologist (2015).  Who decided that even though my bloodwork was normal, once they compared xrays to the 2009 ones he decided that there was signs of bone erosion (which means rheumatoid) in most of the joints of both hands.  But then declined to discuss it.

The second rheumatologist did more bloodwork, said there’s no way its rheumatoid, your blood work is to normal.  It’s probably the sort of thing that happens when you abuse your joints.  I’ll send you to an ortho hand specialist, maybe he can find something that’ll help you.

The ortho specialist looked at everything, poked at my hands in various spots, asked me more questions.  He said there’s some mild arthritis buildup in the joint at the base of the thumb (this joint is basically at the wrist, in case you were curious), but nothing that would explain my symptoms.  But gosh, it sure sounds like rheumatoid, are they SURE you’re not rheumatoid?  After some additional discussion he prescribed some braces that support the thumb joints on the theory that it wouldn’t hurt and might help.

So thats where things currently stand.  Two votes for “the sort of thing that happens when you abuse your joints” and two votes for “are they sure you’re not rheumatoid?”.  Sigh.  I’ve got an appointment to see the rheumatologist in another 6 months, just to make sure nothing changes.  The braces do seem to help, at least a little, with the pain in my thumb joint, so I guess thats not a waste.  It’d probably help if I wore them more, but I’m still getting used to them.

As for my ankles.  The orthotics, once I got used to them, made a significant difference in the amount of pain I was in.  I’m not going to say I was pain free (cause I wasn’t) but the difference was night and day.  For the first two months.  Three months after getting the orthotics I realized the pain in my ankles was increasing again.  Three months is an awfully short period of time to have worn out the orthotics, especially since I’m rotating between two pairs.  In addition I started having issues with my left knee (which is the weak one anyway due to prior issues).  When I started wearing a support brace on that knee, stabilizing it, I found myself rolling my left foot/ankle outwards.  All of which makes me suspect that I need higher arch supports.  I have an appointment this week with the ankle specialist, so we’ll see what he says.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by Wendy from NY:

    I just recently finished a round of physical therapy for my arthritic left knee, that x-rays showed to have severe degenerative changes. The orthopedic surgeon had these options: PT, injecting it, or replacement surgery. I opted for the PT to begin with. A very eye-opening experience! While no amount of PT is going to help the arthritis in my knee, a whole bunch of other things got better! She told me that continuing these exercises/stretches will make a huge difference in my surgery, if and when I choose to go that route. So! I am wondering if PT would help your hands AND your feet, knees, etc.? Might be something to look into, or ask the doctors about. I wonder how much stock doctors put in PT, kind of like nutrition/vitamins. They tell you to eat healthy, but never really get into it with you. I was just so blown away by how much PT helped me, and thought that building up muscle tone around your aching joints might help you also.

    • Comment by Ruth:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if PT would help my feet/ankles/knees. Though my left knee is permanently screwed just due to prior surgery. One of the side affects of the ankle problem is that it causes certain muscle sets to tighten all out of proportion. One of the things I need to discuss with him!

  2. Comment by bogie:

    So I’m going to suggest something that sounds a bit wacky – try going to a chiropractor. That thumb thing can originate as far back as your shoulder blades. And, the chiro can give you exercises/stretches to do that may help.

    Heck, a chiro might even help with the rest too. Maybe not, but they are generally cheap enough that 4-5 appointments to see if it helps shouldn’t break the bank (and some insurance will cover up to 10 “wellness” chiro visits a year. Some chiro’s won’t even take insurance, but only charge about $50 so check around.

    At this rate, can’t hurt – unless you’ve already been that route and I’ve forgotten reading about it.

    • Comment by Ruth:

      Hm, I haven’t. I’ve done massage occasionally, when I can find a massage therapist who does it the way I like it. And that always made me feel so much better……I’m game to look at who’s local to me anyway!