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mountaindreamer
01-18-2011, 10:41 AM
along with lupus and sjogren's, raynaulds, lupus nephritis, and fibromyalgia, i am also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

my question is this: i have noticed lately that my hands will cramp really bad, then lock into a drawn position. I have to use my other hand to straighten out my fingers, and this really hurts.

I see my rheumy next week, and i am going to talk to her about this. I was just wondering if any of you have experienced locked joints, and if this is another step in the progression of RA.

thanks to each of you, i am so thankful for WHL

Nonna
01-18-2011, 11:45 AM
Phyllis,
Strange we never talked about this at lunch. My hands lock up at times. The doctors say that when they lock up it's due to low calcium levels in my blood. I never thought that RA could be involved. It's basically in my neck, which also locks up. Guess we both need to check with the Rheumy.

Toni

Hunniebun
01-18-2011, 11:52 AM
Yep...Unfortunately. I have RA too and it's harshest in my hands, knees and left hip, and is in every other joint in my entire body. What happened with me was, my hands swelled so much that there was no space left in area where you finger slides through when you bend it...I'm sorry for I forget the name of it right now. Basically it gets stuck and makes your fingers stay in a bent position. I had this very badly and it was extremely painful, so I had surgery to have my finger released. They went into my palm and cut a line in the tendon sheath (just remembered the name!) to make room for my finger to be able to bend. It does not heal itself back up again in the way you would think it would, so that cut stays there and allows enough space for you to flex.

If you have to have it done, it is just a 10 minute operation and you don't need to go under, you can just have your arm frozen if you choose. Healing can take 3 weeks or more and you might need some therapy after to learn to flex your hand again if needed.
What can help are strong anti inflammatory drugs and also I'd suggest getting a stress ball for your fingers. My surgeon had me get one after I had the surgery to help bring my hand back to gripping life. The surgery works, that specific finger no longer gets stuck down, but they prefer to do only do this surgery if its really necessary, and they will probably try a few anti inflamms before they do the surgery, if that happens.

mountaindreamer
01-18-2011, 07:27 PM
hi nonna....i agree, i can't believe that we haven' covered this over lunch....guess that means that it is time for another friendship feast.

hi honniebun,

thanks so much for the information. My hands don't swell up like you mentioned, and i am allergic to NSAIDS, so anti-inflammatories options are very limited...but, again, thanks. I will certainly talk with my rheumy this week, and see what she recommends.

I guess i am wondering if my hands will eventually become immobile, and i am wondering if there is anything i can do to prevent it. I have heard of the surgery you mentioned, but i did not realize that it was for RA. Guess i will now enter into another learning time....the life of a lupie means always learning and adjusting.

Was your surgery for one finger only, or did the surgery help keep several from locking?

Also, what RA meds are you on....my rheumy mentioned one to me last time i was there, but my cost was going to be about 500.00 per month.
I just don't see my being able to pay that kind of money on top of all of my other medical expenses.

kim,l
01-18-2011, 11:50 PM
dear phyllis my mother has lupus nephritis and rheumetoid arthristis as well as osteo arthritis and i can tell you yes her joints do exactly what yours are doing so after talking to my mother she told me to tell you yes this does happen when you have rheumatoid arthritis hope this helps my friens hugs kim l

Merrilyn OZ
01-19-2011, 12:53 AM
Hi Phyllis,
My hands cramp up to, my GP puts it down to lack of Calcium, which considering I take supplements does'nt seem quite right. Had never considered the RA a possible cause will talk to my Rheumy about it. My hands only have about 50% of normal grip which is very frustrating at times and some joints are quite misshapen unfortunately they are getting slowly worse and i have to get my husband to cut meat up for me - quite embarassing when out. Will be interested to hear what your Rheumy has to say.

Nonna
01-19-2011, 04:05 AM
[QUOTE=Merrilyn OZ;78450]Hi Phyllis,
My hands cramp up to, my GP puts it down to lack of Calcium, which considering I take supplements does'nt seem quite right[QUOTE]

Hi just wanted to let you know that there are several different types of calcium that they test for.
Bone calcium levels
Blood calciumlevels
ionized calcium levels

I have Hypocalcemia - which is low blood calcium

When the AI diseases got my thyroid, I also lost my parathyroids. They control the calcium levels. Symptoms include tingling in arms and legs, muscle spasms and locking/curling off the hands and legs

Phyllis sorry I went off on a tangent.

Hugs to all

mountaindreamer
01-19-2011, 08:03 AM
hi marrilyn,

yes, i have lost just about all of the strength in my hands/fingers...it is so frustrating. I am having to get help with the simplest of household chores, and it drives me crazy.

thanks kim, i thought this was just another step in the process...hope your mom is doing ok, and tell her thanks for me.

i go to my dr. on friday, so i will post an update with her input....take care everyone.,

Hunniebun
01-19-2011, 10:38 PM
I'm not on any specific meds for RA yet, all I take right now besides my antidepressants is prednisone 5-10mgs. I was told exercise, careful exercise that is, can help. I also have a pair of compression gloves to help me hold onto things better and to keep my hands warm and the bit of pressure on them makes it feel less sore as well. My doctor mentioned taking calcium to help my leg cramps, but it won't help my hand cramps as they don't cramp, they actually swell inside and lock my joints up, that's why I had the surgery done.
I am sorry to hear the outrageous prices you have to pay for medications that could help you, $500.00 per month is ridiculous...I am only disability, so all my medications are free.

Edit: Also yes the surgery did help me, my finger has not locked since, but I have not had it done to all of them, because so far I don't need to since I quit my heavy duty job, now my hands are not as stressed.

magistramarla
01-20-2011, 08:50 PM
Phyllis,
RA is one of the things in my MCTD dx. It was my knees that were mostly affected, although they never got red or swollen.
Lately, my hands have been bothering me a lot. My grip has gotten quite weak, and I drop things a lot.
My thumbs are sort of bent under, and it hurts to bring them level with the rest of my fingers. Most of the pain seems to be
in the tendon right at the base of my thumbs, near the wrist.
I take calcium and magnesium, which helps some.
Please let me know what your rheumy tells you.
Hugs,
Marla

debbie-b
01-21-2011, 04:01 PM
along with lupus and sjogren's, raynaulds, lupus nephritis, and fibromyalgia, i am also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

my question is this: i have noticed lately that my hands will cramp really bad, then lock into a drawn position. I have to use my other hand to straighten out my fingers, and this really hurts.

I see my rheumy next week, and i am going to talk to her about this. I was just wondering if any of you have experienced locked joints, and if this is another step in the progression of RA.

thanks to each of you, i am so thankful for WHL

I have all the same ailments as you, except for nephritis. My fingerjoints are starting to deform. Just this morning I woke up with the big joint in my thumb was swollen,hot and very painful. My fingers are swollen so severely, that when I try to make a fist, my cuticles rip away from the nails. I can only close my hand half way, the fingers are to deformed to make a closed fist. I have it alot of other joints too, but the fingers are the worst.

Debbie

mountaindreamer
01-24-2011, 12:59 PM
hi everyone,

i met with my rheumy on friday, and she explained what was going on with my fingers....yes, it is the RA causing my fingers to snap closed. she said that it could continue to get worse, or it could stay the same. she explained it like this: the finger joints (where the fingers start at the palm) are like a pulley system, and the RA causes nodules to swell and throw the pulley system off track, and so the fingers snap closed, and have to be physically returned to normal. This is very common with RA sufferers....she said steroids could help prevent the swelling of the nodules, but my system does not tolerate steroids. she prescribed me a anti-inflammatory cream that i put on the joints each day. she also told me to rinse a towel in really warm water, and ring the towel (gently) out with my fingers and hands...the warm water helps relieve the tightness, and the motion keeps my joints mooving. she also told me to roll a tennis ball around in my hands to keep the fingers exercised.

She said the difference with the "drawing" of the fingers is that these are not joint related, but tightened tendons in the palm of the hand...these are not RA related, and surgery is an option.

so, this the info that i was able to gather and i hope it helps some of you suffering with the same thing.

Hunniebun
01-25-2011, 10:56 PM
Not RA related? Hmm, I had the surgery because I needed it done bad, and I was still diagnosed with RA. My fingers inside where they start in the palms would swell so much that they couldn't fit through the tendon's to bend. Either way I'm glad you saw someone and got some information to help.
I don't like wringing out wet towels because that hurts, but I do stick my hands in hot water in a bowl and that feels very good. I also have a stress ball that I use to to keep my fingers exercised.