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two wonky hands.

My Strange Hands

I know that my hands look different, but I am used to them. They are small and my fingers are short and stubby. More than that, several of them have swan’s neck deformities. My thumbs no longer bend in the middle. And I can’t make a good fist because of lack of bend in my fingers. My wrists are slightly bent all the time.

Yet they do what I need them to do! I laugh to myself because people expect all the time that I wouldn’t be able to write or type. Yet, I type super fast! I may only use a couple fingers to hit the keys, but I’ve got it down. I remember taking typing in middle school where we were told to hit certain keys with certain fingers. I would try, then I would just do it the best way for me. (Like a lot of things in my life)—I make it work.

Hand surgery?! Not interested.

Searching for an orthopedic surgeon

A number of years ago, I was on the search for a new orthopedic surgeon. It was a few years out of college and I wanted to have a doctor to just monitor my hip and knee joint replacements. Everything was working fine, but my logic was that it would be good to have someone at the ready in case anything went wrong.

I picked a name out of the list of doctors at the same clinic as my rheumatologist and made my appointment. I guess it was a faulty decision-making process because I got a young idiot who freaked me the hell out. He told me that my hips and knees were fine, but that I should consider reconstructive hand surgery. I felt like a specimen and creepy crawlies ran up and down my spine as he turned my hands this way and that to look at them. I told him I wasn’t interested.

Don’t fix what’s already working

It’s not a great sales pitch to tell someone you will break their joints, reset them, cast them and leave them unable to function for however long while healing. What about dressing, cooking, and eating? What about work? What about the fact that my hands have rheumatoid arthritis and would likely go back to a deformed state, meaning that I would have gone through an excruciating amount of pain for nothing?

I don’t deny that hand surgery can be very helpful for many people. What I do argue is that it may not be a good idea for me due to the amount of damage I have and the difficulties I would have during recovery. I also just have to wonder—if my hands are getting the job done (which they are) then why do I have to break them to fix the situation?

RA hand care: other treatment options

Acupuncture

Later, I went to acupuncture for many years. One of the areas that I had treated were my hands and I did find it helpful for reducing pain, swelling, and deformities. I have to admit the treatment of having needles in my finger and wrist joints was usually uncomfortable and the results were not huge. But for a time, and as part of treatment, it was helpful.

Hand therapy

As a child, I had a lot of hand therapy, like doing tasks to help with dexterity and squeezing balls to help with strength. Maybe it helped, but I’m not sure. My RA just kept progressing and attacking every joint that it could. I’m not sure anything available at the time could have been much help.

Hot wax dip

The only treatment for my hands that I ever really enjoyed was the hot wax dip. It may not have made my hands any better, but it felt so good to have the warmth on them. It was so soothing. My husband even got me one as a gift and I am happy to have this option back in my life.

So, while I know I have strange hands, I don’t ever feel bad about them. I’m always grateful that they help me out and do what they can despite the tough odds.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Khushboo
    2 months ago

    Hi Kelly! I too have small hands. I have small fingers, deformed wrist and frozen shoulder and damaged elbow. I relate to all articles of yours. As i am also sufferer of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I got it from the age of 5. I have been suggesting by doctors for Bilateral Hips and Knees Replacement but i have done get it done because of uncertainty of success of it. Your Articles feels like its my Biography written perfectly by you.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks for your kind words Khushboo! Hang in there. It’s nice to meet another JIA buddy. I found the hip and knee replacements to be hugely beneficial, but it is a tough decision and the recovery & rehab can be challenging. Take care. Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • gsehealth
    6 months ago

    Thanks for sharing JJ. I am motivated hearing your experience. You are a great person and have great enthusiasm to face this. You are the inspiration for others. You are GOD’s angel and never worried about anything. Be Like That. Nothing is permanent.

  • JJ
    6 months ago

    You really need to learn a lot about CBD oil. I have learned it needs to be third-party tested and it actually can be purified too much where it doesn’t work too well. I know this as I Purchased 2 ounces 1000 mg for $80.00 from a Company called MedTerra.It is clear has no taste & no odor, and I thought great. I would put it under my tongue every day but after a month I had no improvement from RA pain. I only recently learned that the product since being clear and no taste is an “isolate” & is refined so much that the cannabanoids are removed.(which are helpful for pain etc.) Yet I give my 15 yr. old dog 4 drops daily in her food and she is behaving like a puppy once again! Go figure

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    6 months ago

    Thanks for sharing JJ. We appreciate hearing your experience. Have you been able to find something that does bring you relief? Glad to hear that your sweet doggie is feeling good. Wishing you some relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team member

  • JJ
    6 months ago

    I too had that surgery on my right hand and I am so very sorry that your hands crippled yet again.
    I read the article about remission and I had to laugh not because it was funny because I don’t think I have ever been in remission 37 years

  • ThatsLucy
    6 months ago

    I’ve experienced everything you mentioned. Had JRA for 53 years now. And like another poster, had the surgery on my right hand with the thumb fusion and yes, it took a year to recover. Almost 40 years later, they’re just as bad as they were before the surgery. That’s the progressive, aggressive destruction of RA. But they’re the only hands I have and yet somehow they manage to do what I need (most of the time), and when they can’t I ask for help. ☺️

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    6 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your story ThatsLucy. You are not alone here. Glad to hear that you are managing and able to get by. Thinking of you, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Casmere
    6 months ago

    Hi Kelly, I am amazed, in awe of and so proud of you. What you have endured through your whole life, starting as a very young child, would of broken many, many people. You are an encouragement to all of us on here with RA/RD. Thank you for all your life stories, and commentaries. They are greatly appreciated.
    All my prayers and blessing to you and everyone on here.

    Cashmere (Carol Bonham)

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 months ago

    Casmere, thanks so much for your kind and supportive words–it means so much. Glad my stories can help. 🙂 Wishing you well! Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • jewel
    6 months ago

    Kelly, thank you for your article- it was very encouraging to me, reminding me to look up.
    I am 61 and have had severe RA for 30yrs. I have had surgeries on my right hand, arms and feet just to keep functional and looking for pain relief. But as you said, RA is relentless so the damage returns. I don’t regret my surgeries as they gave me temporary relief. But it is the terrible pain and weakness in my arms and hands that gets me down.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    5 months ago

    Hi Jewel, Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about your troubles, but glad you found my article helpful. Keep on trucking! If you are able, maybe some gentle exercise would help with your arm and hand weakness? I find exercise to help with my strength. I wouldn’t say I am strong! But I think exercises (as long as I don’t over do it) can help me feel less weak. A physical or occupational therapist may be able to provide some good guidance on safe exercise. Best, Kelly (RheumatoidArthritis.net)

  • JJ
    6 months ago

    I too had significantly crippled hands due to 35 yrs of RA. In 2012 I had all of the metacarpal joints replaced in my right hand, my thumb fused (as there were no thumb joints at the time )and also my right wrist was broken & corrected.I then spent six months in traction to prevent my fingers from deviating again once again And attended physical therapy three times a week for many months. It worked! But Please know I did tons of research before I chose the surgeon to do this “repair” and extremely grateful that I did. I also gave myself a full year to recover and it did take nearly a year. If you looked at my right hand now you would never know I had RA or the surgery And I am thrilled to say it works perfectly. Not to mention less pain! Sadly my left hand is still severely crippled and painful from RA & Swan Neck Deformities but I do not intend to have the surgery on my left hand. I am grateful for one good hand and one good foot which has been fused twice. My
    blessings to all of you for making these very tough decisions.

  • Sneed
    6 months ago

    I too have had significant problems with my hands. Quite some time ago I started taking Turmeric along with black pepper and that helped quite a bit with overall inflammation. In the last year I added CBD oil and the combination has relieved maybe 90% or more of the hand pain & stiffness. Mostly they’re no longer an issue. This won’t work for everyone but the point is that different things are worth trying so long as you just try one new thing at a time.

  • jewel
    6 months ago

    I tried to give the Tumeric a try but I have IBS and Colitis so I didn’t tolerate it but I have been thinking seriously about the CBD oil for pain.Should I discuss it with my doctor at my next visit?

  • Alesandra Bevilacqua moderator
    6 months ago

    Hey jewel! I do encourage you to speak with your doctor or rheumy about this first before trying anything so that he or she is in the loop and aware of your concerns and feelings about a new treatment. Let us know how it goes if you’d like to come back and share! – Alesandra (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Sneed
    6 months ago

    Docs do not know a lot about it as no one really does yet. My rheumatologist says some of his patients have tried it and some have had good results and others nothing. I’ve not heard of any actual bad results. It does seem the CBD based on marijuana may be superior to the stuff based on hemp but that’s far from certain.

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    6 months ago

    @kelly Kelly, your hands are strange and my hands hate me! We should get them together, I bet they hit it off like gangbusters! ha ha. Great article, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    6 months ago

    🙂 LOL! Thanks Daniel! Cheers, Kelly

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