When Your Opposable Thumb Opposes You

RA often brings to light things we take for granted.  Like, for instance, our opposable thumbs.

Our opposable thumbs are an evolutionary adaption that we acquired from our primate relatives.

The key to the opposable thumb is that it moves freely and uninhibited.

But not necessarily so, if you have RA.

For me, personally, I have a lot of issues with my thumbs.

I have a lot of pain, they get stiff and are hard to bend, and generally, they just don’t work as well as they did pre-RA.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated that I literally and figuratively want to wash my hands of them.  I literally want to wash my thumbs off of my hands.

Yeah, I know, that’s kind of twisted.

Because thumbs are great.  Truly, they are.  But when you are not able to move them freely and uninhibited, when they cause constant pain, they no longer seem evolutionary necessary.  Rather, they seem like an evolutionary pain in the butt.

I also find that when I have rain- or weather-related symptoms, my thumbs always seem to be included in that.

It’s funny, when I didn’t have RA, I took for granted how much my thumbs, and specifically our opposable thumbs, do for me.

Holding objects, no small task, is really the main ability that our opposable thumbs offer us.

So this explains why people with RA, including me, often have difficulties opening jars, cutting our food with knives, turning door handles, doing buttons, and the list goes on and on.

Granted, it’s probably not the thumbs alone, but a combination of pain, stiffness, and damage to the other joints of the hand as well, that create problems.

Some call the thumb the “digital underdog”; others say that mankind wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for our opposable thumbs.  That’s serious stuff.  Does the future of mankind rest on always keeping our evolutionary adaption that is the opposable thumb?

Given that, if your RA has spared your thumbs, you should be happy about that, because it’s no small deficit that is created when you don’t have full use of your thumbs.

If I could, I would give RA two thumbs down, but that’s no happening today, tomorrow, or any time soon…

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

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.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

How does your pet support your RA journey?